The Dim-Post

March 17, 2016

The struggle

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:52 am

Via RNZ:

None of the so-called “jihadi brides” who became headline news last year actually left from New Zealand, the Security Intelligence Service says.

Official papers said all were New Zealand citizens who were living in Australia, and that they left from there.

Last December SIS director Rebecca Kitteridge told Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee there was a developing trend of New Zealand women travelling to ISIS-controlled areas.

“Something that has changed over the last year is the issue of New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria, which is something we haven’t seen previously or been aware of,” she told MPs.

In response to an Official Information Act request, SIS, the domestic spy agency, said the women concerned “did not leave New Zealand.
Here’s Kitteridge back in December when this was front page news:

Kitteridge said after the committee hearing the numbers leaving from New Zealand were small but significant – but declined to give further details.

But she confirmed it was fewer than a dozen. Their plight was a worry, however.

We’re constantly told to take what these very trustworthy people say on trust, but almost every statement they make which can be verified turns out to be false.

59 Comments »

  1. To Be Fair (for the hell of it), the bolded words in the latter extract are not from a direct quote. They more likely represent the presumption of the reporter (because RNZ was very quick to adopt the whole “our NZ girls are becoming jihadi brides!” schtick).

    That said, there is no doubt that the clear implication of Kitteridge’s various statements was that the women being talked of were NZ residents … and the SIS did nothing to correct the general assumption. So, yeah – the SIS fucked this one up and we’re justified in thinking they did it in order to make their role look super important at a time there was a review of the law going on.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 17, 2016 @ 9:14 am

  2. Well @Andrew logically they have to have left from NZ at some stage, so I’m sure one could lawyer the two situations into being the same.

    Plus who said the West Island isn’t New Zealand🙂

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 17, 2016 @ 9:18 am

  3. Well @Andrew logically they have to have left from NZ at some stage, so I’m sure one could lawyer the two situations into being the same.

    You can be born in Australia and still be a NZ citizen (like my wife was!).

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 17, 2016 @ 9:20 am

  4. My wife is far more exotic – born in Canada (not a real country I know).

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 17, 2016 @ 9:26 am

  5. Senior intelligence officials are probably too busy enjoying their time being embedded – or even running – ethnic community associations or charities like, even the Freemasons – but let’s leave it at that – to have time to really determine who is a Jihadi bride or not, I suspect. After all, there are trade relations to consider. And those community organisations and charities are ripe for independent initiatives that may contradict them.

    Comment by Bruce — March 17, 2016 @ 9:27 am

  6. … born in Canada (not a real country I know).

    Her name isn’t Ted Cruz, is it?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 17, 2016 @ 9:27 am

  7. Seriously, but, here’s Finlayson’s response to claims the SIS were misleading:

    “We didn’t give that impression at all … If you go back to the statements that were made, there were no implications or ‘winks and nods’ that they were not resident in New Zealand.”

    Let’s read around the inadvertent double negative (unless he meant to say there were implications that the women were resident in NZ?). We’re asked to believe that somehow, coincidentally, amazingly after Kitteridge’s appearance every news organisation in NZ was reporting that “jihadi brides” were leaving NZ for the Middle East, but that’s not what she wanted people to think, and really it’s none of her business how her words are understood and reported? Let’s test that proposition with a counter factual. Let’s imagine that after the committee hearing the media (wrongly) reported her statements as meaning that the SIS have no concerns about ISIS activity in this country because we’re not considered a high priority target for that organisation. Do we think that the SIS would quietly sit back, shrug and go “not our problem how people understand what we said”?

    And if we think that they’d be front-and-center correcting that misapprehension, why didn’t they do so in regards the “jihadi bride” issue? And that goes to the question of “can we really trust these people”.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 17, 2016 @ 9:38 am

  8. @Andrew I think you’re making assumptions about how the Comms function at the SIS works. I don’t think the Comms group for any Govt Agency would correct mistaken assumptions that are working in their favour unless it was going to clash with a statement that they knew their minister was going to make.

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 17, 2016 @ 9:55 am

  9. I don’t think the Comms group for any Govt Agency would correct mistaken assumptions that are working in their favour …

    (1) That’s not good generally.

    (2) It’s even worse in respect of the SIS, at a time when they are pitching a “you can trust us, we’re becoming more open and transparent about what we do and how we do it” message.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 17, 2016 @ 10:09 am

  10. Is anyone still surprised by this? We don’t often get the chance to independently verify whether the SIS or the GCSB are accurately describing what they do, or the risks to NZs security. But when we do, it seems too often they get caught out.

    Comment by Nick R — March 17, 2016 @ 10:10 am

  11. For the record, audio of Kitteridge’s testimony, courtesy of Felix Marwick, is here (relevant part is approx. 25:40 – 26:12):

    http://chirb.it/adr7Fa

    Comment by Gordon — March 17, 2016 @ 10:14 am

  12. According to the Select Committee clip the first person to introduce the term “Jihadi brides” was Key. He lead Kitteridge down the path to talk of women leaving the country though she said she knew not where or why. Key no doubt knew that “Jihadi Brides” would catch the imagination and he was right. Genius.

    Comment by ianmac40 — March 17, 2016 @ 10:23 am

  13. Is the fact that they went to Syria via Australia rather than directly of great significance?

    Kitteridge doesn’t claim they left directly from NZ as far as I can see.

    It does seem to be true that a small number of NZ women did go to join ISIS which would be of concern.

    Comment by NeilM — March 17, 2016 @ 10:25 am

  14. @NeilM,

    It does seem to be true that a small number of NZ women did go to join ISIS which would be of concern.

    Evidence?

    Also, there is a huge difference between NZ citizens becoming radicalised here in NZ then heading off to join ISIS (if this is what those women did … but there’s no concrete evidence that that is what happened) and NZ citizens becoming radicalised in Australia then heading off to join ISIS. This exchange took place in the background context of the review of the SIS’s powers to engage in domestic surveillance. Having people all worried about the former is much more beneficial to the SIS than the latter. And so … oops!!! … look what happened.

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 17, 2016 @ 10:37 am


  15. Kitteridge doesn’t claim they left directly from NZ as far as I can see.

    As for this … let’s imagine Kitteridge tells the Committee “we (the SIS) have strong intelligence that ISIS is planning attacks on civilian targets”. The media goes nuts and has lots and lots of reports about “ISIS is targetting NZ!”. Then a few months later it emerges that the intelligence is in regards civilian targets in Australia.

    Oops? Not its fault people jumped to conclusions? No misleading here?

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Lying_by_omission

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 17, 2016 @ 10:40 am

  16. I think the NZ government has a duty of care towards NZ citizens no matter where they reside.

    Even If they had only became radicalised in Australia then that’s something the NZ government should still be concerned about.

    It has been a phenomenon – concerted internet grooming of women by ISIS to join the cause and marry fighters.

    Comment by NeilM — March 17, 2016 @ 10:43 am

  17. Even If they had only became radicalised in Australia then that’s something the NZ government should still be concerned about.

    In which case, Kitteridge could have said:

    “Something that has changed over the last year is the issue of New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria from Australia, which is something we haven’t seen previously or been aware of”

    And then we would all be happy. But she didn’t. Nor did the SIS see fit to clarify that important information (given the background context of the review of the SIS’s powers) in the days that followed, even when the local Muslim community expressed its surprise at the claims and discomfort with the implications about it. So now it has to wear the cost of its inaction.

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 17, 2016 @ 10:48 am

  18. So they travelled via Australia. That does seem a bit beside the point.

    How does that alter the fact that NZ citizens have got caught up in this ISIS recruitment process.

    Comment by NeilM — March 17, 2016 @ 10:53 am

  19. So they travelled via Australia.

    If you are going to participate in comment debates, it helps to know the basic facts of what you are discussing.

    Documents obtained by RNZ News show none of the women actually left from New Zealand and all were living in Australia.

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 17, 2016 @ 11:00 am

  20. Travelling via Australia and living in Australia aren’t mutually exclusive.

    I haven’t seen a great deal of concern for the NZ citizens who were preyed upon by ISIS.

    Comment by NeilM — March 17, 2016 @ 11:08 am

  21. @Andrew I think we (the people) have to take some responsibility for the way Govt Agencies react to things that become news stories. We allow the media to pretty much exclusively provide us with infotainment rather than factual and contextual reporting when it comes to agencies. Issue based journalism has been replaced with trawling OIAs to find a nugget you can take out of context and use as clickbait. The ultimate goal being to force a CE to resign.

    When was the last time you saw a story like “Ministry reduces health and safety risk by providing staff with adequate furniture”. Instead, you get “Ministry spends $6000 dollars on a chair”; the chair in question being an entire functioning meeting suite far more spartan than you’ll find in any commercial office in Wellington.

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 17, 2016 @ 11:11 am

  22. No, NeilM. Because that’s not what is under discussion. But nice attempted deflection.

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 17, 2016 @ 11:12 am

  23. Neil, there’s been loads of work don3 on ‘radicalisation’ the various factors that lead to it etc. (Prof Wilkes from the UK would be a good place to start). Push and pull factors are pretty important. Propaganda and grooming on the interent are important ‘pull’ factors sure, but it’s at the margin. It only tips people over the edge, if you like, if they are receptive.

    One of the big things govts should not do is tell lies, either of ommission or commission. A big mistake the UK made, particularly under Blair but they are still at it, was to maintain that the war in Iraq had no role in radicalising the UK muslims who became terrorists. This clam flew in the face of people who were susecptible to terrorist propaganda like a red rag.

    When govts lie about what they are doing, and about what the threat from a coummunity is, the people in that community lose trust. They start to feel like they are targets above and beyond what the reality suggests would be appropriate, this alienates them to an extent. It’s a ‘push’ factor. Honesty really is the best policy.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 17, 2016 @ 11:12 am

  24. @NeilM (clearly trolling, but I’ll take the bait)

    What’s more likely to make “middle New Zealand” more comfortable with the SIS having greater power to spy domestically? Is it:
    1. New Zealanders being radicalised within New Zealand and travelling to ISIS locations – the implication/possibility being that there are individuals/groups/communities capable of radicalising/enabling such action; or
    2. New Zealanders being radicalised while they are living in Australia (as above within Australian communities), and then travelling to ISIS locations?

    ‘coz I reckon that an absence of radicalising factors within New Zealand would make New Zealanders less comfortable with greater powers to spy domestically.

    What do you reckon? Are these things not measurably different?

    Comment by Skttrbrain — March 17, 2016 @ 11:45 am

  25. Would these people also be returning to live in Australia in the event of Syria not being to their liking?

    Comment by unaha-closp — March 17, 2016 @ 11:54 am

  26. I think it highly unlikely they anyone in the Muslim community is going to radicalised because the govt didn’t explicitly state the NZ citizens involved left from Australia.

    Comment by NeilM — March 17, 2016 @ 12:18 pm

  27. Of course you do. Because if you were to say that it might have a radicalising effect, then you’d have to say that the lie-by-omission was bad. But as we know you’ll never do that, you have to believe (or, say you believe) it is “highly unlikely”. QED.

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 17, 2016 @ 12:30 pm

  28. Because if you were to say that it might have a radicalising effect..

    Then why would supposed NZ govt malfeasance radicalise some Muslims to go and kill other Muslims?

    Is this something particular to the Muslim community?

    Comment by NeilM — March 17, 2016 @ 12:37 pm

  29. Nice attempted deflection, NeilM. Let’s not talk about whether and how the SIS stuffed up … let’s talk about shifty Muslims instead!

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 17, 2016 @ 12:49 pm

  30. ‘Is this something particular to the Muslim community?”

    No it’s not. radicalisation follows the same course whether it’s islamic, Irish, South Americam, Anarchist, communist, anti-communist, antcolonial, Greek, Cypriot, etc. That’s why the people who study it look at terrorist movements from all over the place. They look at terrorist campaigns that were successful (about 10% historically), and campaigns that failed (usually wrapped up within a few years). They compare govt responses to see what works and what doesn’t work. Lying helps the terrorists recruit becuase it reinforces their messages.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 17, 2016 @ 12:50 pm

  31. Lying helps the terrorists recruit becuase it reinforces their messages.

    That might be a plausible explanation for attacking Western targets but the vast majority of Muslim extremist targets are other Muslims.

    Comment by NeilM — March 17, 2016 @ 12:58 pm

  32. ‘Far’ and ‘near’ enemies Neil. But that’s all stuff that’s specific to this particular conflict and beside the general point about ‘not lying’. Also, if you look at what the govt was saying the concern was partly/mostly about them ‘returning to NZ radicalised’.

    But on that specific point, once open to the terrorist’s propaganda, once radicalised, they take on the fight the terrorists are waging. That’s what ‘radicalised’ means in this context. So it is a surpise that people radicalised into accepting, for example, IS’s world view would attack Muslims who reject that vision? No, it isn’t. Not even slightly.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 17, 2016 @ 1:18 pm

  33. @NickR: “Is anyone still surprised by this? We don’t often get the chance to independently verify whether the SIS or the GCSB are accurately describing what they do, or the risks to NZs security. But when we do, it seems too often they get caught out.”

    I don’t think it’s too important whether people are surprised or not. The significance in Danyl’s point is that it’s referring to actual evidence to back up suspicions, which is much more useful in arguments about reform of the spooks (or of anything) than simply making clams based on hearsay and group-think.

    Comment by izogi — March 17, 2016 @ 2:16 pm

  34. So it is a surpise that people radicalised into accepting, for example, IS’s world view would attack Muslims who reject that vision?

    No but it is noticeable that the vast majority of victims are Muslim which doesn’t quite gel with the notion that purported lies from Key or Blair play a large role in radicalisation.

    But I suppose I just would expect our security services to be paying close attention to a major strategy by a conservative religious death cult to groom the vulnerable and at risk. Which they gave done with sucess and continue to do so.

    Comment by NeilM — March 17, 2016 @ 2:52 pm

  35. Recruiting sucess of cult that is.

    Comment by NeilM — March 17, 2016 @ 2:53 pm

  36. If ISIS is a genuine threat, then so too is Ted Cruz if he takes the White House.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — March 17, 2016 @ 4:11 pm

  37. @Kumara Republic – Yes, we have to be more vigilant against Canadians. Why isn’t the SIS doing enough to protect us?

    Comment by unaha-closp — March 17, 2016 @ 4:29 pm

  38. At last, Blame Canada! It had to end up there.

    Comment by Tinakori — March 17, 2016 @ 5:02 pm

  39. It’s hard to believe you are being honest here Neil, so I’ll bow out.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 17, 2016 @ 5:19 pm

  40. @ 34 Purported lies? Quit while you’re behind.

    Comment by paritutu — March 17, 2016 @ 7:57 pm

  41. I just think this proves some people will come up with any excuse to depart Australia.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 18, 2016 @ 6:59 am

  42. Consider for a moment a US conservative Christian militia has developed a sophisticated on line recruitment process targeting vulnerable young people. The aim being to go fight for settler extremists in Israel.

    Not a completely unlikely scenario.

    They have managed to recruit a small number of NZ citizens who travel from the US to Israel.

    Is it of any great significance how they get to their destination, would it not be something our intelligence services should be looking at?

    Comment by NeilM — March 18, 2016 @ 8:04 am

  43. I think that’s a red herring Neil, It isn’t about whether the issue qualifies as worthy of being looked into, What appears to have happened is that it was deemed important enough to be looked into and then a crock of s..t was delivered to the public about it. The post, I understand, is about how people charged with a duty of care to be honest appear to tell us things that then turn out to be specious often with impunity, becasuse well it’s a matter of national security so you can make up anything you like, because if you challenge it you are a subversive, … or something..

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 18, 2016 @ 8:26 am

  44. ok neil – add in that your hypothetical was raised in a review of NZ domestic spy agencies and then not clarified as not occuring within NZ once that perception was created

    Comment by framu — March 18, 2016 @ 8:37 am

  45. not occuring within NZ

    Are you saying no part of the recruitment process of NZ citizens took place in or via NZ?

    Comment by NeilM — March 18, 2016 @ 9:39 am

  46. its your hypothetical neil – how about you, you know, clarify the intell so that incorrect assumptions arent arrived at?

    Comment by framu — March 18, 2016 @ 9:44 am

  47. Should I keep posting screenshots of identified intelligence agents within community and activist orgs? Because beery Neil just doesn’t seem to get it does he?

    Let’s put it to a vote. If you want me to keep me to posting images of spies at ethnic community events, let me know.

    Oh, and don’t read the comments.

    Nippert, are you there?

    Comment by Bruce — March 18, 2016 @ 9:59 am

  48. If you idiots don’t pick up on this, no offence, how obvious do we need to be?

    Giving up, again. So sad.

    Comment by Bruce — March 18, 2016 @ 10:11 am

  49. Enjjoy Kiwiland. I’m done.

    Comment by Bruce — March 18, 2016 @ 10:15 am

  50. I meant – they left from oz but that doesn’t preclude their recruitment having been in or via NZ.

    A large number of recruits don’t travel directly from their country of origin to Syria. They travel via established pathways.

    Comment by NeilM — March 18, 2016 @ 10:25 am

  51. Give up!

    Comment by Bruce — March 18, 2016 @ 10:29 am

  52. neil – are you talking your hypothetical or have you know switched back to something else?

    cmon mate – stick with the flow of what comes off your keyboard, or at least update us so that incorrect assumptions arent created

    Comment by framu — March 18, 2016 @ 10:59 am

  53. NeilM #42: Sounds remarkably like PMCs and certain sectors of the US military.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — March 18, 2016 @ 11:05 am

  54. NeilM,

    Given the amount of crap that the Government is taking on this issue, if there was any evidence at all that any radicalisation had taken place in NZ you can be certain we’d have heard it by now. But the Government’s sole line of defence has been “we never said anything was happening in NZ, just that NZ citizens were involved (and that they might one day come back to NZ)”. So, you know … I’ll draw my conclusions from that.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 18, 2016 @ 11:24 am

  55. @Andrew

    You don’t think that ISIL has been trying to recruit in NZ? They have everywhere else.

    What I take from this is NZers have been caught up being recruited, where they happen to have left from seems a bit beside the point.

    And given they do aim at the most vulnerable in a particular sophisticated and concerted way I’m surprised that hasn’t been more of an issue rather than where they happened to leave for Syrua from.

    Comment by NeilM — March 18, 2016 @ 2:30 pm

  56. Just so we’re 100% clear, NeilM – you think it makes no difference whatsoever whether NZ residents are being successfully radicalised by ISIS? That this is irrelevant? That the SIS (and the rest of us) shouldn’t pay any attention to that matter?

    Because that is what you appear to be arguing. Which is fine. It’s just … a bit strange.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 18, 2016 @ 3:12 pm

  57. @39 No he’s really that credulous.

    Comment by Sacha — March 19, 2016 @ 7:53 pm

  58. Congrats, Neil. Even Pete George would envy this beautiful work of straw-art:

    “I think it highly unlikely they anyone in the Muslim community is going to radicalised because the govt didn’t explicitly state the NZ citizens involved left from Australia.”

    Comment by Sacha — March 19, 2016 @ 8:07 pm

  59. Wow. So you can drop a photograph of top spies not only spying on but running ethnic community organisations in a Dimpost comment and no one cares, and the Government can be caught out lying multiple times about “jihadi brides”…. And no one cares.

    Last time I even ever look at a NZ website. Goodnight and good luck!

    Comment by Bruce — March 20, 2016 @ 9:03 pm


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