compare the pair, after major charges in his red notice were dropped...
Significant communication problems within domestic spy agency ASIO led to an alleged Egyptian terrorist being cleared for community detention, a report has found.
A report from the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security found ASIO cleared Sayed Abdel Latif, despite the fact he was the subject of an Interpol red notice.
The report found ASIO had information that may have seen it reject the application but it was not used because of a lack of communication.
It described a check conducted at the time as extremely limited.
Despite being cleared for community detention, Abdel Latif instead spent 11 months in a low security centre in the Adelaide Hills before being transferred to the higher security Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney.
The report also found communication problems within the Immigration Department and between the department, ASIO and the Australian Federal Police.
The agencies have all accepted the report's recommendations.
The Interpol notice on Abdel Latif said he had been convicted of murder and terrorism offences in his home country.
Inspector general Vivienne Thom found Abdel Latif volunteered information when he arrived which closely matched that of a man sought by Interpol since 2001 for belonging to an extremist organisation and for a range of violence offences.
Immigration, the AFP and ASIO all knew of the notice, the report found.
"The details provided should have alerted agencies to the fact that his case presented complex security issues," the report stated.Potential threat to national security
The report also says the AFP did not pass on information about the original conviction in Egypt, and that while Immigration found the family should be allowed to apply for protection, a brief to that effect was probably "misplaced" in the Minister's office.
Dr Thom notes there were high workloads and demands in the various agencies, which goes some way to explaining the problems.
"The potential for harm to national security that could have been caused by these problems did not materialise," the report stated.
"However, such an outcome is not assured for other complex security cases."
In June, Interpol removed the murder conviction and additional firearm charges from its notice on Abdel Latif.
But he is still listed as having been convicted of belonging to a banned terrorist organisation.
Abdel Latif, who arrived on Christmas Island with his family in May 2012 and remains in Villawood, has denied that he is a member of any extremist organisation.
A breakdown in communication between immigration officials, Asio and the federal police that could have had serious national security consequences has been revealed in a report that raises serious questions about procedural fairness in the case of an Egyptian asylum seeker Tony Abbott labelled as a “convicted jihadi terrorist”.
Abbott last year, while opposition leader, called Sayed Abdellatif a “convicted jihadist terrorist”. In 1999 Abdellatif was convicted in a mass trial of 107 people. A red notice issued by Interpol said he had been convicted of murder and explosives possession. Interpol dropped these claims after an extensive investigation by Guardian Australia, leaving just two non-violent convictions on the red notice.
An inquiry by the inspector general of intelligence and security into the case of Abdellatif – now detained in Australia – found systemic failures. Its report highlights extraordinary levels of miscommunication, including a major breakdown within Asio.
The inquiry was commissioned by the former prime minister Julia Gillard after Abdellatif’s case was raised by the Coalition in parliament to argue that Labor had made Australia “less safe”.
The inquiry report says that despite all three agencies being aware of the possibility that Abdellatif was the subject of an Interpol red notice for serious convictions, no co-ordinated response was initiated. Asio refused to assist the Immigration Department in determining Abdellatif’s identity when questions about the red notice were raised in 2012.
“Overall there was a lack of co-ordination, a duplication of effort and a lack of urgency in obtaining information about whether a person in immigration detention potentially matched a national security alert,” the inspector general, Vivienne Thom, writes.
The report makes clear that Abdellatif subsequently proved not to be a national security threat but expresses concerns that the breakdown in communication could have serious implications in other cases. “The potential for harm to national security that could have been caused by these problems did not materialise,” it says, “however, such an outcome is not assured for other complex security cases.”
The report notes a catalogue of failings throughout the handling of Abdellatif’s case and criticises record keeping. Much of the information in the Immigration Department “resided in emails in personal drives and there were inadequate corporate records of key decisions”. The report also states that “key procedures and agreements” between the department and Asio “were not well documented”.
The report highlights the tensions between the department and the Australian federal police when they were seeking to tie Abdellatif to the red notice. The AFP became aware that the man listed the red notice was “likely to be identical with” Abdellatif in January 2013 but did not inform the department of this until 20 February that year.
The report says the AFP was handed court documents in November 2012 that showed Abdellatif had been acquitted of the major convictions listed on the red notice but it took until April 2013 for the AFP to “partially” translate these documents. They were not passed to Asio or the Immigration Department.
This revelation raises serious questions about why the AFP did not disclose information about the contested nature of Abdellatif’s convictions during a Senate estimates hearing in May 2013 when his case was discussed.
Despite the AFP liaising with authorities in Egypt, neither the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs nor the attorney general were asked for advice about the nature of the alleged convictions.
The report states that Abdellatif consistently complied with questioning from the AFP and did not withhold information about his past.
He was originally transferred to community detention but in April 2013 was transferred to high-security detention in Villawood, Sydney, just days before the media reported his case. The report highlights that at this point Asio still refused to aid the investigation and that a ministerial briefing on the transfer prepared in February was not handed to the minister until April.
The Asio approval process for community detention is also criticised. “Within Asio there was a disconnect between what the senior executive had approved as a process of checks, what operational staff understood, and what actually happened. There was inadequate guidance for Asio staff.”
The report says the senior immigration official who approved this transfer had not seen the Interpol red notice nor the AFP’s advice on it.
The inspector general also says Abdellatif’s state of detention should have been reviewed after the major charges in his red notice were dropped. Abdellatif remains in detention in Villawood, separated from his wife and children.
Basically, Sayed Abdel Latif should not have been placed in maximum security... Abbott was playing the hypocritical devil when he said that having Sayed Abdel Latif in low level accommodation was making Australia less safe. Julia Gillard did not formulate an opinion based on false premise, unlike our Turd-in-Chief who deliberately does — to confuse issues and blame others than himself — for populism enlargement.