Saturday 20th of April 2024

Planners' Hopes- Dirty Bomb Insider Trading?

Did you hear the one about the AFP counterterrorism strategy founder who became the manager of a homeland security company that made a killing in the Australian share market? Sorry, it's not a joke. It happened years ago.

Let's set the scene...

"Planners hope that, the more they do it, the more the agencies and personnel will learn to work together, forming some semblance of organization before any occurrence of the real thing." Don't you find this to be bizarre language to hear on a nightly TV bulletin? Esoecially in a city about to host a fake terror attack? The way KOIN TV (love the name) would have it, it's gonna happen sometime or another.

That, after all, is the whole point of the exercise.. to show what is going to happen. TV cameras recording, in Portland, Oregon's case, three hundred and fifty people dead and injured, from a mock blast that in reality, according to the news bulletin, "throws the radioactive material around, thus contaminating wide areas."

No mention, of course that the radiation won't actually hurt you, or that 350 dead and injured is a fairly dramatic figure, much more than Shadow Defence Minister Fox's (love the name) ten dead in London's Hyde Park.

And where do you think the grisly footage is going to turn up? My guess is Today Tonight and A Current Affair, and every similar evening program in the world. Who'd want to miss out on such a ratings grabber and toothpaste seller? Of course, local experts will be found to transpose the effect into their home cities, perhaps some police commentary downplaying local possibilities.

Share market tip, for those who came in late.. homeland security companies. While bluechip, there'll be no big money, as the "smart" boys and girls got in and out during the oversubsripbed IPOs before the share prices plateaued. You have to be "in the know" to get the real money. A minister investing in your portfolio would probably be helpful.

And who can we find to be potential terrorists? Anybody we can get upset enough to do it. Moslems, Indian Doctors, Somalian refugees, Halliburton protesters... one minister or another can ruffle their feathers with a bit of villification, and then sit back and see how good their scriptreading was Sooner or later, even if there's no ka-boom there'll be a ka-ching of cash registers processing the profits. What an easy lurk!!

It's like Downer's justification for having cash involved in the AWB float. He explained that he invests his money in investment companies so he doesn't need to worry where his money is invested. Yes, Minister. How much of your cash was running through KBR when it was split off from Halliburton?

Or perhaps, Xtek, Australia's only ASX registered homeland securty company? They floated the day the deportation of that notorious terrorist Scott Parkin.

[extract from The Age 6/10/05]

""The company supplies products and services relating to the protection of national borders from the threat of terrorism and politically motivated violence.

"Homeland security is now an integral part of Australia's defence policy and independent research indicates that demand for better security products and services will continue to grow," Mr French said.

"The government has been supporting the sector, for obvious reasons and the nature of the products they are buying and the infrastructure they are putting in place indicate that it is going to be a long term requirement."

I put this quote in a Your Democracy blog of two years ago. I also recorded these details of the IPO sourced from the same piece:: The company raised A$14 million for the float by the oversubscribed issue of 28 million shares at a price of 50 cents per share. By noon of their first day of trading, the shares had risen by forty per cent... not a bad morning's work for "ground-floor" investors. Anyone buying after that would be disappointed to see their investment slip back to a resting level of around 67 cents per share.

Still, shareholder shouldn't need to worry. The same Age piece recorded that "[XTEK's] Customers include the Australian Defence Force, federal and state police forces, their bomb disposal squads, federal and state government departments, ministerial offices, courts throughout Australia, airports, public venues and major national and international companies." and that they were a major equipment supplier to the Sydney Olympics. Sydney 2000's counterterrorism co-ordinator became the main bloke in Unity, the corporate military mob that shot those two women last week.. oh yeah, and the Iraqi/Australian Professor Of Agriculture.

Let's get back to the Mr French mentioned in The Age:

[investor.xtek extract]

In the early, post-Hilton days, the emphasis was on bomb-related equipment for search and "render safe". SCOTT-XTEK prospered as a result of this activity; it was at this time that then Managing Director, NJ (Nigel) French first came into contact with the Company, as an Australian Federal Police (AFP) officer responsible for sourcing equipment to prepare the AFP for its counter-terrorist role.

As a result of SCOTT-XTEK's central position and it's excellent contacts within Police and Government Departments the Company was frequently asked to source other counter-terrorist equipment leading it to develop Surveillance and Counter Surveillance into another major product line. In order to provide a service and repair facility for it's clients and to develop it's own security product range the Company moved, in 1983, to a factory site in Botany (NSW).

In late 1987 the LOMAH Corporation, a public company which had recently acquired DART Defence Industries (makers of target systems) bought the security business and appointed Nigel French as General Manager for their new Company, XTEK SECURITY SYSTEMS Pty Ltd.

LOMAH concentrated its efforts on DART, and XTEK was left to continue the same style of trade.
Over the ensuing two years LOMAH's fortunes in Albury, NSW, where DART was located, declined, whilst XTEK, despite two changes of location, made steady, if unspectacular, progress. Continuing financial pressure obliged LOMAH to wind up its operations; DART was sold to Australian Defence Industries (ADI) and French was offered XTEK. French acquired the Company in 1989 and he made the move to Canberra.

At the time of the float French said that he was putting the generated revenue through the UK office to get the ball rolling in the US of A. French also invested A$ 2 million in a WA company called QRSciences

[WA BusinessNews, 8/3/06 extract]]

In November, QRSciences signed an agency agreement with XTEK to distribute explosive detection products developed by QRSciences.

Under the agreement, XTEK became the sole distributor in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania of QRSciences' next generation of Checkpoint Screening technology that dramatically improves detection of plastic and distribution explosives.

This stuff would be a must-have for anyone wanting to avoid half a dirty bomb being sent in the mail. You have to wonder who's got the US rights.

Three years ago the Victorian Police decided to commission an independent study of counterterrorism practices by MonashUniversity, which was released yesterday. Monash's head of criminology Jude McCullogh told the ABC that

What we found was when taking a close look at the Federal Government's policy framework and the legislation that flows from that, it's not properly balanced in terms of addressing the short-term threat, or what are perceived to be the short-term threats, and also ensuring that in the longer term there doesn't arise a dynamic which fuels that threat.

The picture accompanying Ruddock's rebuttal in today's Age is of Customs officers wearing protective gear while searching a bin. Now you know who they bought the spiffy outfits from. It's accompanied by this brilliant riposte by the Attorney General:

I don't regard rigorous policing in relation to very serious offences being at all incompatible with community relations

To explain this further, Phil explains how he and Commissioner Mick have visited mosques. Yep. That'll do the trick

Phil goes on to say how the bungling of the Haneef case wasn't an example of the AFP's counterterrorism methodology being a stuff up. Of course it wasn't. It was Good For Business.

Getting back to the US Dirty Bomb Drill. After this, everyone's going to need a lot more gear...

believe it or not .....

The police investigation of events surrounding the bungled Haneef terrorism-support case has so far cost $8.2 million and it's not over yet. 

But Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty is adamant not all the money has been spent on pursuing the Indian-born former Gold Coast medical registrar who was detained at Brisbane Airport last July. 

"It is not - believe it or not - all about Haneef," he told a Senate Estimates Committee hearing. 

The investigation - called Operation Rain - was the Australian response and provision of assistance to Britain's Metropolitan Police in relation to terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow in July 2007, Mr Keelty said. 

$8m Bill For Bungled Terrorism Case