It has taken this long folks. From February 04
and again in November 04 I wrote on the strange tale of Ahmed Zaoui, former Algerian MP, religious scholar, and political refugee. At that time the "case" had been teetering along for some two years as the judicial processes of the NZ immigration system ground on exceeding slow.
Forefront to the hoha was a "Security Certificate" issued by NZ's version of the CIA, known locally as the Security Intelligence Service. It was believed, very strongly in some quarters, that Zaoui's "history" including convictions in France and Belgium were sufficient proof to have him excluded from NZ as an undesirable immigrant. What crimes he is convicted of has never been stated. It may well (I am guessing) for use of forged immigration papers; a crime common to many seeking refugee status.
What has happened in the past week or so is of some interest - not because of the "triumph to the people" fanfares from the media commentators, or perhaps even the fact that the unfavourable certificate has been withdrawn, but the vast background that has not and probably will never see the light of day.
So,, if you want to follow this as a news item I commend Granny Herald's articles here, here and finally here.
The second of these stories contains the following -
One of the reasons given yesterday for the SIS deciding Mr Zaoui is no longer a threat to New Zealand was that he had become "more candid" in his disclosures to authorities.
Both parties backed down to reach the unorthodox and face-saving compromise which allows the Algerian to stay in New Zealand under a written promise of good behaviour and co-operation with the SIS.
"Zaoui clearly gave [the SIS] all the information he had, just as he did the DST [French domestic intelligence service] when he was in France," the source added.
From France last night it emerged Mr Zaoui fears he could be targeted by former associates.
"Zaoui isn't a danger any more, he hasn't been for a few years and certainly won't be if he stays in New Zealand," the European intelligence source said.
"But he is under pressure from activists he once associated with and he wants protection from them."
The SIS says that although Mr Zaoui had some potentially dangerous associations with extremist groups in Europe, they did not mature into active support for terrorism.
OK, I accept their word that it is so, but how long ago did Zaoui tell them? We will never know. I will bet that it was not last week or even twelve months back.
Then from the last article -
Dr Tucker said Mr Zaoui was "clearly a risk" when he arrived in New Zealand in 2002 as he had convictions in France and Belgium for participating in and leading terrorist networks. He had been deported from Switzerland and was excluded from the UK.
But he said he had reviewed the position following new evidence presented by Mr Zaoui.
"I am now satisfied that in 2007 he is no longer considered to be a risk," Dr Tucker said.
His decision was based on:
- Mr Zaoui becoming "more candid" in the information he provided to the authorities in New Zealand
- newly received classified information which showed Mr Zaoui's associates were involved in terrorism, not Mr Zaoui himself
- the length of time he has been in New Zealand and the distance in time from the offences he was convicted of
Well we know why the last one - nearly five years in NZ custody for a starter...
All in all, it seems that "intelligence" services are the very oxymoron that the names imply. Try Stasi, CIA, SIS, and MI5 through the news reports for a start. KGB I suspect ranks more alongside the Mafia though the strange case of Litvinenko does strongly suggest otherwise. The Chinese seem to be no better given their attempts to hack the computers of various governments.