Posted on 25 May 2017

    There's No Link Between Middle Eastern Refugees And Terror Attacks, ASIO Boss Says

    Only one of the 12 terrorist attacks thwarted by ASIO was planned by a right wing extremist.

    There's no connection between Middle Eastern refugees and terrorism, Australia's top spy chief has told a Senate Estimates hearing.

    In response to a line of questioning from One Nation leader Pauline Hanson blaming terror in Australia on extremist Islam, ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis said there was no evidence to support that claim:

    Hanson: Do you believe that the threat is being brought in possibly from Middle Eastern refugees that are coming out to Australia?

    Lewis: I have absolutely no evidence to suggest there's a connection between refugees and terrorism.

    Lewis also told Hanson that only one of the 12 terrorist attacks thwarted by ASIO was planned by a right wing extremist.

    "Of the 12 thwarted attacks, one of those indeed involved a right wing extremist... so the answer is no they have not all been carried out by Muslims," he said.

    "But I've got to stress, senator, this is very important – ASIO does not make its inquiries or its assessments on the basis of somebody's religion.

    "We are only interested in people who are exhibiting or offering violence and to the extent there is violent extremism, which is very frequently inspired by a warped version of Sunni Islam, that's when our interests are invoked."

    ASIO boss tells Pauline Hanson there's no evidence to suggest a connection between Middle Eastern refugees and terr… https://t.co/QNj29yvy3k

    Lewis warned that Australia is only at the "end of the beginning" of the Islamic State's terror threat and the risk of attacks is as high as ever.

    "Because of these things we assess that well beyond the physical existence of this so-called caliphate, the threat of terrorism and the threat of a terrorist attack against Australians and Australian interests will continue,” he said.

    “This is not the end, it’s not the beginning of the end, it’s more like the end of the beginning. We don’t see this finishing any time soon.”

    Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

    Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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