November 28, 2008
Air New Zealand A320 Crash
Wellington, Nov 28 NZPA - Five New Zealanders are given no hope of surviving the crash of an Airbus A320 operated by XL Airways of Germany in the Mediterranean today.
One Air New Zealand pilot, three engineers and a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) inspector were among the seven people on the aircraft, which crashed off Perpignan, in southeast France.
The Airbus was being flown by two XL Airways pilots.
At least three people have been confirmed dead while the four others are missing.
A French journalist said the search for bodies was continuing in the dark despite strong wind and rain.
He said there was no hope of survivors.
"It's not really clear on what happened...the plane was flying for one hour and a half and suddenly fell down to the sea," he told Radio New Zealand.
"There was no explosion, it was flying (at) 300m and suddenly fell down into the sea, but no explosion."
There were many witnesses, and emergency services were quickly at the scene.
The aircraft was believed to be 45m deep in the sea and divers would try and recover the black box tomorrow.
Some wreckage was floating on the surface, but the pieces were "very difficult to find because of the big waves and the dark".
A surveillance plane, two rescue helicopters and five ships scouring the seas around the crash site about 3km from the shore.
About 20 specialist frogmen were taking part in the operation.
The mood at Air New Zealand and CAA headquarters in Wellington was sombre this morning, as staff waited for news from France.
The aircraft was owned by Air New Zealand and had been on lease to XL Airways for the past two years.
Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe said it was being flown to Frankfurt, where it was due to be handed back for a ferry flight back to New Zealand.
"Naturally, this is an extremely difficult time for us all and the full resources of the airline are being put into investigating what may have happened and providing support to our people and their families," he said.
One of CAA's Wellington staff is thought to be among the missing.
"We believe it could be one of ours'," spokesman Bill Sommer told NZPA.
"We're waiting for confirmation, we haven't gone past the search and rescue stage. We need confirmation."
The certification engineer was on the trip as part of the process by which aircraft and handed over from the European operator.
The aircraft, wearing Air New Zealand livery, was on a test flight and took off from Perpignan about 5.30am (New Zealand time).
The crash came 29 years to the day that an Air New Zealand DC10 crashed into Mt Erebus, killing all 257 passengers and crew.
Mr Fyfe said today was already a very poignant one for Air New Zealand because of the Erebus tragedy and the anniversary added a new dimension to today's tragedy.
The Airbus A320 had apparently been undergoing maintenance checks at Perpignan airport before it took off on a test flight.
The aircraft was four years old and when delivered had flown for Freedom Air for about a year before being leased to XL Airways.
It was due back in New Zealand this week.
The pilot was from Auckland and the engineers were from Christchurch and Auckland, Mr Fyfe said.
The pilot was a very experienced captain "which is typically what we want when we are going through one of these acceptance processes. We have our most experienced people ensuring the aircraft is up to Air New Zealand standards."
Several staff were waiting in Frankfurt, Germany, to take over the aircraft on its flight back to New Zealand.
The jet had been undergoing servicing at EAS Industries in Perpignan and flying circuits for 90 minutes before it crashed, an emergency services spokesman said.
Six French aviation accident investigators and two from Germany were being sent to help an inquiry with experts from the French civil aviation authority (DGAC) and Airbus.
Airbus said it delivered the jet in July 2005 and it had carried out 2800 flights with about 7000 hours of use since then. The constructor gave no details of the accident.
There are about 3700 A320 jets in service with almost 3000 more to be delivered. Air New Zealand own two Airbus aircraft, and lease 10.
Their average age is four years, and they seat about 150 passengers.
A spokesman for Prime Minister John Key said he would hold a press conference early this afternoon in Wellington to talk about the crash.
"This is obviously a tragic situation for the families of the people killed and also for the airline. We are in touch with Air New Zealand and the Civil Aviation Authority."
Air New Zealand jet crash: latest
Government concerned for Air NZ & CAA staff on crashed Airbus
Transport Minister Steven Joyce says the Government is getting regular updates, and seeking briefings from officials, in the wake of the A320 Airbus crash in France, near the border with Spain.
"The Government is getting briefings from Air New Zealand and the Civil Aviation Authority.
"Obviously the New Zealand Government has grave concerns and is being updated on developments."
Mr Joyce says it is premature at this stage to comment on what shape any investigation might take, although he fully expects New Zealand agencies to play a part.
"But our thoughts right now are with the families, friends, and colleagues of those who were on board."
November 27, 2008
Lightbulb ban switched off?
Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee has asked officials to look into a proposed phase out of incandescent lightbulbs.
In Opposition Mr Brownlee was a vocal opponent of the Labour government's plan to implement a new standard for lightbulbs which would see old incandescent lightbulbs phased out by the end of next year.
A newspaper today reported a National staffer saying the phase out would not go ahead but Mr Brownlee would not confirm that.
Mr Brownlee said officials at the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority were doing some work on the issue.
"We'll be making an announcement about that in due course," Mr Brownlee said.
Labour Party climate change spokesman Charles Chauvel hoped National would go ahead and adopt the new standard.
"We think the existing policy is pretty sensible," he said.
"It's not even as drastic as what the Australians' position is and, if we are going to take our obligations seriously, we do have to do work in this area so we'd be pretty disappointed if there was a retreat from the policy."
Australia plans to ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs from next year when Britain will start phasing them out.
China, which makes 70 percent of the world's lightbulbs, recently agreed to phase out incandescent bulbs.
The minimum efficiency performance standard for lightbulbs was developed with Australia.
Under the standard people can use halogen bulbs, which look like incandescent bulbs, or compact fluorescents.
The new bulbs are more expensive but are about 30 percent more energy efficient.
There has been argument over whether the new bulbs were not as good to ready by or were more flammable.
NZPA PAR mt nb
TV actress hid in hotel cupboard
Sydney (dpa) - Australian soap opera star Brooke Satchwell described Thursday how she hid inside a bathroom cupboard as gunmen were shooting other guests at Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel.
Two Australians were in hospital and six members of a trade delegation were missing after multiple, coordinated terrorist attacks late Wednesday local time on 10 sites in India's financial capital.
"I came back in [the hotel] and went via the bathrooms, which were on the ground floor next to the lobby, and as I stepped inside the lobby, gunshots were starting to go off," the 28-year-old Neighbours actor told a local television station.
"There was probably about six of us in the bathroom, and everybody froze, and then I think adrenalin kicked in and it became pretty clear what was going on," she said of the attack in which more than 100 people were killed and more than 200 injured. "People started to lock themselves in the toilet cubicles, but at that point, that didn't seem like a very clever idea. There was no way out."
Satchwell found a small cupboard and hid inside.
"It was really terrifying," she said. "There were people getting shot in the corridor. There was someone dead outside the bathroom."
An Australian businessman said he spent five hours hiding under his bed after seeing gunmen open fire on fellow guests at Mumbai's Oberoi Hotel.
"We started hearing all this banging, which we just thought were fireworks or something," wine company executive Garrick Harvison told Australia's national broadcaster ABC in a mobile telephone call from his Oberoi room. "I went out, had a look and it was just bang-bang-bang like a semi-automatic rifle.
"When we looked over and found that it wasn't fireworks - it was actually people shooting people - I just ran inside my room. From that point, for the next four of five or six hours, I heard gunshots and bomb blasts."
At least 101 people were killed in the attacks and hundreds were wounded, authorities said.
Two Australians celebrating their graduation from Canberra's Australian National University were injured, one catching a bullet in her thigh and the other grazed by a bullet.
Six members of a 13-strong Australian trade mission staying at the Oberoi Hotel were unaccounted for.
Acting Foreign Minister Simon Crean described the attacks as an "appalling assault" on India's people and democracy.
"Whoever they are, they are condemned in the strongest possible forms," he said. "This is a cowardly act. It's indiscriminate. It's a terrorist act."
Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull also condemned the attacks, saying, "India is a very successful economy and to see these criminals trying to disrupt that in a mad, destructive way is tragic, and our hearts go out to the people of Mumbai, to all of the people who have been hurt, to the Australians who were there but also to the whole of India."
Key’s republic comments dismay monarchists
TGIF EDITION, with NZPA
Prime Minister John Key's meeting with the Queen this week at Buckingham Palace has struck a discordant note with monarchists back here in New Zealand, after he described the country's republican future as "inevitable".
In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Key said "It's inevitable, but it's very unlikely that it will occur under my leadership."
It's a line that was also followed by his Labour predecessor Helen Clark who, despite playing coy on the main issue, rapidly made constitutional changes hastening republicanism, including cutting links to the Privy Council and removing Knights and Dames from the Honours system.
Monarchist League spokesman Robert Mann, in an email to National MPs this afternoon, expressed dismay at Key's apparent refusal to stick up for Queen and country.
"If he meant no criticism of the "inevitable" trend which he's alleging, this is very bad news. Did this man campaign on the Clark/Cartwright line re monarchy? Is his 'very unlikely', as opposed to 'never, on my watch' much less 'over my dead body', merely a further signal of his PR-dominated attitude to democracy?
"His frequent sub-chant "y'o" [you know] expresses, I fear, a postmodern degraded egalitarianism. He appears to be projecting a 'person of the people' wimpish image - doubtless coached by Crosbie Textor PR agents, as Clark was coached by the cynical atheist Brian Edwards," said Mann.
Meanwhile, Key has clarified his concerns about a new British departure tax on long haul flights, saying he's worried other countries may impose environment taxes on flights to New Zealand.
He is also raising questions about how rational British plans to more than double the tax to fly to Australasia are.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's pre-budget report proposed a $240 tax on flights to New Zealand by 2010. The increase would come under changes to Air Passenger Duty (APD) flight taxes, imposed to penalise travellers who use most environmentally-damaging fossil fuels.
The passenger levy -- which increases the further a passenger is flying to help offset carbon emissions -- would affect New Zealanders flying home from the United Kingdom.
"Firstly as I pointed out to Prime Minister Gordon Brown it's not necessarily rational," Key told Radio New Zealand.
There were efficiency differences between airlines and aircraft and some airlines, including Air New Zealand, were trialling biofuels.
"So to simply put a random tax on because we are a long way away in our view is not only unfair but I am worried about the contagion effects of that, where you might get other countries in Europe imposing the same thing."
He questioned how the tax would work in practice, for instance when passengers had stopovers.
"We just indicated we were concerned about it, we didn't think it was fair, and we'd like to progress the issue further if we can."
November 21, 2008
Political career on the rocks, in tonight’s TGIF
Tonight's TGIF Edition will end any hopes of a political career for one Labour high-flyer, as these first lines from tonight's editorial disclose:
There are times when you instinctively know an investigation will hit its target, no matter what interference is thrown in its way. The torpedo that TGIF Edition dropped in the water three weeks before the election is one of those stories; with the certainty of purpose of the Grim Reaper himself, that missile ploughed silently through the political waters, unwavering despite the lack of wider media coverage. In tonight's TGIF Edition, the torpedo reaches its biggest target yet: a high-flying Labour cabinet minister whose actions leave a reasonable person with only two reasonable conclusions: the minister was either incompetent…or corrupt.
The revelations on the front page of tonight's TGIF Edition leave no wriggle-room anymore, no hope of political escape. For Labour's ?????, the game's over, his career effectively finished.
This is one TGIF Edition you can't afford to miss. Subscribe now at http://www.tgifedition.com using the subscription plan that suits (note that with a year's subscription, just $36, we're giving away a free copy of the bestselling book Absolute Power as well, worth $35).
November 14, 2008
Heat in the kitchen
Migrant chefs exposed as members of terrorist group
In an Auckland restaurant today, a young Muslim man works as a chef, and may be on the verge of getting permanent residency. But this man is not just anybody. He's undergone terrorist training with a major Islamic terror group, and arrived in New Zealand on false documents. The authorities know this. So why is he still here? IAN WISHART has the exclusive investigation
PULL QUOTE: "The letter, now in the hands of both Investigate magazine and the Security Intelligence Service, disclosed that Anwar and Rehman's relatives were all involved with an Islamic terror organization called Lashkar e Taiba, and the tone of the letter suggested both of Chaudhry's houseguests were likewise, active members of the banned organization."
Members of one of the world's largest Islamic terrorist groups have successfully infiltrated New Zealand and been instructed to set up support networks here, despite being banned under New Zealand's Terrorism Suppression Act 2002. Even more embarrassing for the Government, Investigate has obtained documents and statements from within the NZ Islamic community that show a man given military training at a terrorist base on the Afghan border continues to work here on an official work permit, despite evidence that he provided false information on his immigration application five years ago – and despite the New Zealand Government being alerted three years ago.
The terrorist organization is called Lashkar e Taiba (prounced "Lashkari Tiber"), which means "Army of the Righteous" in the Urdu language of Pakistan. Its members, believed to number well into the thousands, are trained in hundreds of madrassas, or hardline Islamic religious schools, scattered throughout Pakistan and the Afghan border regions, and collectively they make it one of the largest terror organizations affiliated to Osama bin Laden's al Qa'ida network.
The documents obtained by Investigate show a Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) group in Pakistan urging followers to set up support networks in New Zealand, even though the organization is banned worldwide and as part of this country's anti-terrorism laws. Across the Tasman, Australian authorities arrested and prosecuted a 22 year old Muslim medical student who had attended an LeT terror training camp in Pakistan, but here in New Zealand one of the group's members who attended the same camp has instead been given an extension to his work permit.
In a moment we'll tell you more about who the man is, where he works and what the evidence is. But first, some background
To understand the significance of this story, and the ramifications for NZ security that these men have been able to enter the country legally, albeit using false documents, you first need to know a little bit of history about the LeT.
The group has been caught donkey-deep in some of the terrorist plots uncovered in Australia in recent years, as journalist Kaushik Kapisthalam noted on Australia's Crikey.com.au news-site.
"When it comes to the common terrorist thread between Willie Brigitte, Izhar-ul-Haque, David Hicks and Faheem Lodhi, Australians constantly hear the name "Lashkar-e-Taiba" (LeT) bandied about. Given the preponderance of LeT connections to terror plans within Australia therefore, it is critical that Australians understand the origins and activities of Lashkar-e-Taiba. To begin with, one must be disabused of the notion that the LeT is a "Kashmiri" group. It is not.
"The LeT was founded in Pakistan and is made up of mostly Pakistani Punjabis with a smattering of Afghans, Arabs, Bangladeshis, South East Asians and the occasional Western or Indian Muslim recruit. To understand the LeT, it is critical to appreciate its position in the Pakistani as well as the global jihadist movement.
"The LeT led Ahle-Hadith movement has traditionally stayed apolitical and instead focused on its main goal - the dream of establishing an Islamic Caliphate that stretches from Indonesia to Morocco, including Northern Australia by means of a violent jihad.
"Due to its eschewing of political confrontation with the Pakistani army and thanks to the strength of its ties to Saudi Arabia the LeT steadily grew in to one of the largest and most capable jihadist groups in Pakistan, despite the relatively small size of the Ahle Hadith followers in that nation. Even though the LeT elects not to take part in politics, it does have an unarmed wing, the Markaz Da'wa wal-Irshad (MDI) or "Centre for Religious Learning and Social Welfare". At the inspiration and by some accounts seed money from Osama bin Laden, Pakistani Salafists Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Mohammad Saeed of the University of Engineering and Technology of Lahore, founded the MDI in 1987. One of the other founding fathers of the MDI was Palestinian promoter and scholar of jihad Abdullah Azzam of the Muslim Brotherhood. Azzam was also one of the inspirations behind the creation of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Many consider Azzam the "Godfather" of the modern jihadist movements. Azzam was in fact the religious and political mentor of Osama Bin Laden and the inspiration behind the "Arab-Afghan" phenomenon of international, particularly Arab volunteers hijacking local conflicts involving Muslims in the name of Islam and turning them into a part of a global jihad. To this day, Lashkar uses Azzam's speeches and publications to train and motivate its cadres. Also noteworthy is the fact that the Lashkar-e-Taiba, before it renamed itself "Jamaat-ud-Dawa"(JuD) in 2002, linked on its website to the Hamas official website and the then English mouthpiece of al Qaeda, Azzam.com. Before Israeli forces killed him, Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin routinely addressed LeT rallies in Pakistan through phone. It is to be noted that Hafiz Mohammad Saeed became the supreme leader or the "Emir" of the LeT following Azzam's death.
"The 190 acres large headquarters of the MDI/LeT is located in the town of Muridke, about 45 kilometres from Lahore. Its vast campus contains a huge mosque for the construction of which Osama bin Laden had reportedly contributed 10 million Pakistani Rupees, along with a garment factory, an iron foundry; a wood works factory, a swimming pool and three residential colonies for the volunteers. During the days of the US-Saudi funded jihad in Afghanistan to drive out the Soviets, the MDI was allowed its LeT volunteers to fight along with the Afghan Mujahideen. The Muridke campus also served as a base camp for Arab fighters to rest and recuperate and even train for jihad.
"Reports say that Bin Laden also paid for the construction of a lavish and secure guesthouse in the LeT's Muridke campus. Other than staying in the guesthouse occasionally, Bin Laden also used to chair LeT's annual conclaves. After he became a global fugitive in the early to mid 1990s, Bin Laden preferred not to stay in the Muridke guesthouse due to security concerns. While Osama bin Laden stopped attending LeT's annual moots, he has addressed them over the phone until a few years ago from his hideout in the Sudan and, since after 1996 from Afghanistan. Addressing the November 1997 LeT annual meeting on the phone from Kandahar, bin Laden reportedly said: "Those who oppose jihad are not true Muslims." The LeT like other Pakistani jihadist groups also benefited greatly from Al Qaeda training at its camps in Afghanistan. In those camps, LeT fighters gained access to suicide bombing techniques, learned how to build large truck bombs that could destroy reinforced concrete structures, how to conduct surveillance on targets without being noticed, how to plan for spectacular operations covertly etc.
"To finance its day-to-day activities, the LeT leverages its contacts in Saudi Arabia as well as launches donation campaigns with overseas Pakistanis, especially middle class and wealthy Punjabis in Britain, Australia and the Middle East. According to Jane's Terrorism & Insurgency Centre, Osama bin Laden has also financed LeT activities until recently. The LeT, under its new name JuD, uses its outreach networks including schools, social service groups and religious publications to attract and brainwash recruits for jihad in Kashmir and other places.
"While LeT apologists try to use its connection to Kashmir to palm it off as a "Kashmiri freedom fighter" group, the reality is that it has always used brutal terrorist tactics in Kashmir and elsewhere in India. LeT members have perpetrated and even claimed responsibility for scores of attacks on Hindu pilgrims, temples and innocent farmers. In fact, the LeT boldly claimed responsibility for a May 2002 attack on the wives and children of Indian troops at a time of war-like situation between India and Pakistan. European Union External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten noted at that time that he was repulsed by the sheer savagery of the attack where sleeping infants were machine-gunned to death at close range. Despite this, the LeT openly praised the attack and glorified it on its website."
So that, then, is just one brief article on LeT. There are thousands more on the internet, including reports that some of the July 7 bombers in London may have trained at LeT camps.
How could an organization so prominent on the War on Terror hit-list manage to slip past New Zealand intelligence and immigration agencies (again)? Our story begins in late 2001, when a Waikato businessman traveled to Pakistan seeking staff for his restaurant. The man, a moderate Muslim and prominent community leader named Javed Chaudhry, wanted an unmarried chef. The man who responded was Muhammad Anwar, a cook from Pakistan who needed an employer to sponsor his immigration to New Zealand. While the businessman sorted out the paperwork, Anwar arranged for a 'friend', Jameel ur Rehman, to be hired as a cook as well. Rehman, in fact, was Anwar's cousin.
Both men arrived in New Zealand in early 2002 to start work at the restaurant, and initially they lived with the businessman and his family.
But it was only a matter of time before the first hint of trouble, says Chaudhry.
"Anwar came to me one day, and said he had been having sleepless nights because he needed to tell me something. He said, 'I did not tell you the truth back in Pakistan. I have a wife and two children. I am sorry'.
"I was very shaken, because I had had to turn away many good chefs who applied for the jobs for the very same reason. I didn't want a married person because the job in New Zealand was for years, and I did not believe it was ethical to separate a man from his wife and children for several years.
"So I told Anwar he had broken my trust and would have to work hard to regain it."
Despite coming clean to his boss about the lie, Muhammad Anwar did not come clean to the New Zealand immigration authorities, and in a 2004 document applying for a work permit extension he again ticked the "never married" box.
It was during this time that the restaurant owner became more suspicious, after stumbling across a letter addressed to both Anwar and Jameel ur Rehman.
The letter, now in the hands of both Investigate magazine and the Security Intelligence Service, disclosed that Anwar and Rehman's relatives were all involved with an Islamic terror organization called Lashkar e Taiba, and the tone of the letter suggested both of Chaudhry's houseguests were likewise, active members of the banned organization.
This is what we now know in hindsight – at the time the name of the terror organization meant little to the businessman; it was the paramilitary hardline Islamist references he was picking up on. Initially, it was not enough to tip his hand in favour of calling NZ authorities, but it was enough for him to start keeping his ears and eyes open.
While Anwar was applying for an extension to his work permit in 2004, the businessman made a visit to Pakistan, armed with a video recorder. He managed to track down Anwar's wife and children, along with other details linking him back to the terror organization. On his return to New Zealand he faced the issue of whether to keep Anwar on, but in July contacted the NZ Immigration Service (NZIS) and alerted them to the false information in the work permit application, and the terror links. Chaudhry asked NZIS whether they could cut the 12 month extension to just five months which – when backdated to the 17 March 2004 permit expiry – meant that Chaudhry could effectively give Anwar four week's notice for a departure on 16 August.
Three days later, NZIS spoke to Chaudhry by phone, advising him to immediately "withdraw the offer of employment". This, explained NZIS, would have the effect of cancelling the work permit forthwith, allowing Anwar to be deported.
So the next night he told Anwar to leave.
Naturally, Anwar wasn't happy.
"Mr Anwar, after losing his job, has become more violent and troublesome towards us," complained Chaudhry in a further letter to NZIS. "He is pressuring us not only by himself, but also through his friends. On Monday 26 July 2004 at about 10pm his friend Mr Awaiz rang me and told me that he is coming to see me at the restaurant and that I should wait for him there.
"There, he demanded for Mr Anwar's passport and claimed [that] Mr Anwar has told him that he does not fear immigration for the possibility of being deported, but rather 'he promises to bring harm to you, your family and your company through any possible means'."
The passport, incidentally, had been sent to Immigration back in March as part of the work-permit extension process. Chaudhry didn't have it.
A couple of days later, the restaurant was broken into and money taken from the till, and the following day an egg was thrown at the front window while a female staff member was setting tables. The police were called in regard to both incidents, but naturally had no hard proof of Anwar's involvement.
Anwar meanwhile had fled his flat, and was staying with another Pakistani immigrant, Sajjad Ali. According to Chaudhry, Anwar was being hidden by local Pakistanis, many of whom hailed from the same lawless North West Province of Pakistan as Anwar and Rehman.
Within weeks, Anwar was in Auckland, working in the restaurant of another Pakistani businessman. Chaudhry found out via his own contacts in the community and secretly videotaped Anwar there, sending a copy to Immigration. He also passed on the text of a conversation with Shahid Azad, the President of the Pakistan Association of New Zealand (PANZ).
According to the documents sent to Immigration in September 2004, Azad admitted harbouring Anwar and arranging work for him at the Salatine restaurant in Hunter's Corner, Auckland, despite the fact that Anwar was wanted by the authorities.
You would think that Immigration, knowing where Anwar was working, would move swiftly to deport him. But no, the wheels of the deportation appeal process turn slowly. Another letter sent in May 2005 records "that Mr Muhammad Anwar is still working at the Salatine…he keeps changing his appearance. Currently he is clean shaved and having moustache," wrote Chaudhry.
It took nearly a year, along with a series of cat and mouse police raids on houses in Auckland suspected of harbouring Anwar, before he was finally deported. One of those houses allegedly belonged to the then-head of the Pakistan Association of New Zealand, Shahid Azad.
One of the association executive told Chaudhry that members of the Pakistan Association held an emergency meeting to decide whether the Pakistani community should co-operate with the police investigation into Anwar.
"As if they had a choice," mutters Javed Chaudhry to Investigate. "I told my colleagues that this was a matter of national security and that we owed allegiance to our new country, New Zealand. Instead, some other people in the Pakistani community here took a different view and began slandering my name."
Rather than see Anwar as a threat to New Zealand security because of his extremist Islamic views and membership of a terror organization, local Pakistanis commenced a whispering campaign against the businessman, accusing him of being a bad employer and slave-labourer. Whilst it was true he had failed to pay the correct holiday wages, that didn't make him Genghis Khan. And even if he were New Zealand's worst employer, it would not change the fact that two men were in the country with proven connections to terrorism, and who had lied on the official NZ immigration forms in order to get in.
Nor did it change the reality that at least one of the men nursed ambitions of bringing the rest of his family, including extremist Islamic preachers and fellow members of LeT, out to New Zealand if he could gain residency. That man, Jameel ur Rehman, remains in New Zealand today and still has a work permit.
So what do we know of Rehman?
A letter from Anwar's sister (and Rehman's cousin) Nasreen to the men in 2002 told how the family had again attended the "itjema", or annual gathering of Lashkar e Taiba, a gathering that called in members from overseas as well. Nasreen wondered whether any NZ supporters of LeT had traveled back for the meetings. According to translations supplied to the Police, Nasreen mentioned the names of several of the family members attending, including Rehman's mother Zubaida.
By way of independent corroboration, the website globalterroralert.com describes LeT's "Annual Mujahideen Conference in Pakistan. The conference was held, according to the militant group, 'to acquaint our brothers and sisters of the current situation [state] of Jihad'."
In a second letter, a relative named Saeed Ahmad asks whether there is any representative of LeT in New Zealand, then notes that Anwar's father (also Rehman's uncle) wants both young men to establish "Lashkar e Taiba in New Zealand", by "making introductions" and extending "invitations" for local Muslims to join the group.
The Waikato restaurateur, already suspicious, was shocked to discover Rehman and Anwar had been discussing the need for young Muslims to complete military "jihad" with the businessman's teenaged sons, regaling them with stories of "training camps" in remote regions.
"He told me," one of the teenagers swore on oath in a High Court statutory declaration about Rehman, "that while studying at a madrassa, he received three months' training in a training camp in Shinkiari, and said that he fully supported what the terrorist organization and Osama bin Laden are doing.
"As he described the training to me, he mentioned that he learned to use firearms and had to survive in the forest for 1 week alone, and using the training that he had been taught…"
Another son, in his statutory declaration for the authorities, wrote:
"He has mentioned that his family are great supporters of this organization and that many of his brothers have attained training there, with one of his brothers reaching the commando stage. He mentioned that the training included the use of firearms and explosives."
Now, here's an interesting piece of corroboration. Note that comment above that Rehman trained at an LeT terrorist camp in Shinkiari, in the infamous North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. That statutory declaration was sworn in 2005. Here's a news report from the Times of India published on May 14 this year, 2007:
"Over 50 terrorist camps active in Pak: LeT chief
NEW DELHI: When pushed against the wall by a battery of reporters in Islamabad on Sunday, Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Sayeed blurted out the truth about the existence of terrorist infrastructure on Pakistani soil and his resolve to carry on jihad to its logical conclusion — a fact which contradicts the stand taken by the Musharraf regime and something former PoK [Pakistani Kashmir province] president Abdul Qayyum had vehemently denied during his recent visit to India.
"Lashkar's admission supports claims made by India that terrorist camps are still operational in Pakistan. Sources said over 50 camps are active in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh and in parts of Northern Areas — at least half of which are new camps set up in the past six months with fresh recruits.
"According to intelligence received here and based on questioning of some captured militants, India has prepared a dossier of camps operational in different parts of Pakistan. The intelligence assessment says that while 10-12 new camps have been set up in different parts of Pakistan, including areas around Rawalpindi and Lahore, almost a similar number of old camps are already in existence.
"Cadres associated with LeT and Hizbul Mujahideen outnumber all other outfits, about a dozen of whom operate out of PoK and Pakistan. Among the prominent outfits having substantial presence include Tehrik-ul Jihad Islami, Tehrik-e-Jehad Islami, HUJI, Al Badar and Al Jihad, besides LeT and HuM.
"Sources said most of the camps have mixed cadre strength where militants associated with different outfits are trained together.
"Some of these camps are situated in Shinkiari and Jungle Mungle in Manshera and Attarshisha area of NWFP; Talegam in Rawalpindi and Raiwind in Lahore."
Investigate found some more corroboration – from statements taken from LeT's own website back in 2000.
"Lashkar e Taiba correspondent Abdullah Muntazir said jihad has been raised not only in Jammun and Kashmir but also in the whole world…In our Jihad Camp we impart training for three weeks in which newcomers are introduced to the Kalashnikov up to the Missile.
"Following this, there comes the Special Tour comprising of three months in which they are trained for Guerilla war and mine blast, fighting and firing the missiles and rockets.
"He said after this practice some of the boys are selected for specialization in making remote control bombs and missiles."
This is the camp Jameel ur Rehman boasted of taking part in, and which his family indicated on video that he had been on.
Investigate magazine rang the NZ Immigration Service to enquire about Jameel ur Rehman, the LeT terror-trainee. NZIS confirmed Rehman was still living in New Zealand, and still has a valid work permit. The question that has to be asked, given the documents obtained by Investigate, and given the way far less sinister Iranian Christians are being booted out of NZ, is "Why?"
Letters sent to Rehman in New Zealand from friends in Pakistan reveal a number of his associates, including "mujahedin" Hafiz Sahib and Ali Watto, were in jail at the time of writing. Watto, when he got out, himself wrote a letter to Rehman where he posed the question, "Whose gunman will I be? If anyone, friend, comes without praying then on gunpoint I will get them to pray".
So that's how Rehman's friends talk.
Other friends of Rehman have been killed. An entry in his diary, obtained by Investigate, reads: "35 kilometres away from Bahawalnagar, a village east of Haripur; by word of mouth from Imran: Deceased, Mr Yaser, Mr Tahir, Mr Aslam, Mr Mahmood and Mr Asad (Sunday 25.7.2004). Both alive friends Mr Imran and Mr Shahid."
The diary entry did not record any detail of how the five men died or why two survived. Nor does the diary entry record whether the "Mr Aslam" killed is Rehman's cousin Mr Aslam, who'd written a letter in 2002 saying, "If, after death, Allah asked me 'did you do Jihad?', then what will I reply to my Allah?"
A second letter from Aslam had recorded his attendance at the mujahedin's "itjema", or annual gathering that year.
From the documentation supplied, it appears Jameel ur Rehman and Muhammad Anwar were sending funds earned in New Zealand back to the madrassa in Satiana, Pakistan, affiliated to the Lashkar e Taiba. A letter from Rehman's brother, Atiq ur Rehman, asks him to do his "level best" to get the money through, and pages from Rehman's diary have bank account numbers alongside the names of key contacts back in Pakistan.
This, too, would be a breach of New Zealand's Terrorism Suppression Act. Section 8 of the Act provides a 14 year jail term for anyone who directly or indirectly collects funds for the benefit of an organization or entity that they know has carried out or participated in a terrorist act. Section 13 of the Act provides a 14 year jail term for anyone who participates in such a group or organization.
No one in New Zealand has ever been charged under the Act, leading the communist party front organization RAM – standing candidates in this year's local body elections and a big supporter of radical Islam – to misleadingly claim that NZ is terrorist-free. But from the evidence gathered by Investigate, it seems authorities may simply have chosen not to lay charges rather than attract public attention to the security breaches.
In one letter from Rehman back to his brother, he talks about the possibility of bringing Atiq – who'd recently trained as a madrassa teacher - over to New Zealand to teach Salafi Islamic doctrine.
"There [are not many] mosques here in New Zealand…don't worry at all, leave it to me, whenever I find an opportunity I will let you know."
Investigate has tracked down the madrassa Rehman and Anwar trained at. Its website records that it is a Salafi institute (a hardline Islamic sect), whose "ultimate goal of struggle to spread Islamic Knowledge is:
- To prepare people with Islamic Knowledge, who then without any personal motive, spread teachings of Deen-E-Islam according to Quraan and Sunnah.
- To help bring Islamic values and teachings into practice.
- Rectify Aqeedah of People by educating them with right Islamic Aqeedah.
- To fight against Bi'dah [moderate interpretations of Islam] by educating people."
The website notes that "This institute is trying its best to spread Islamic teachings in the world", and also records that one of its original teachers was a "Qaree Matee ur Rehman", back in the late 1970s.
The website also records one of its current leaders is Bashir Ahmad. In one of the letters to Jameel ur Rehman and Muhammad Anwar, Bashir Ahmad urges them to spread the Salafi doctrine in New Zealand, by "giving invitations to others".
Video footage supplied to both Investigate and security services of Jameel ur Rehman's house, back in Pakistan, features his brother proudly showing the Lashkar e Taiba propaganda posters displayed on their lounge wall – images of Kalashnikov rifles, rocket launchers, burning American flags and slogans like "This is how to treat infidels".
During the same trip that he obtained the video footage, Javed Chaudhry checked up on the credentials Rehman had supplied for his work experience. Already well aware that Rehman had been training at terror camps and in a hardline madrassa, Chaudhry wondered where he'd found the time to clock up five years working in the kitchen of the Hotel Adil, the source of the signed work reference Rehman had presented to him in order to get the job. That reference, signed by the hotel's manager, is on hotel letterhead and reads:
"This is to certify that Mr Jameel ur Rehman s/o Muhammad Ismaeel holding Passport No J947676 has been working in our Hotel as cook for Pakistani Tandoori dishes/bread making with effect from 1995 to 2000. During this period his work and conduct has been excellent. He is young, hardworking and conscientious worker. I wish him every success in his future life."
It is signed by M. Zahoor ul Haq, Proprietor, Hotel Adil International, Rawalpindi.
Naturally, Rehman's employer allowed his curiousity to get the better of him, and went to see Zahoor ul Haq.
"He said he had never heard of Jameel, and said the signature on the reference wasn't his," says Chaudhry. In other words, the reference was a fake.
But Jameel had not just used it to get the job, he'd used it also to gain entry to New Zealand on the immigration papers.
So what was Rehman doing while he was supposedly working at the Hotel Adil? In video footage provided to the NZ immigration and security services, one of Rehman's relatives, and a teacher at the Satiana madrassa tells Chaudhry the full story.
"Did he live in Rawalpindi city for five years?" asked Chaudhry.
The relative lets out a hearty laugh on camera.
"He did not live in Rawalpindi for five years, but for five years he would have lived in Saudi Arabia. After coming back from Saudi Arabia he spent some time at home and then came here [Satiana madrassa] with Atiq [his brother].
"He had lived in Saudi Arabia and had earned money in Saudi by himself…Later on I came to know that he had been selected as cook by you and when Jameel realized that it is a cook visa then he started learning cooking in a restaurant in Burewala city for about six months or a year, but I think even less than a year. However, he started learning cooking after he was selected by you for the position of cook."
In the video, the relative, a man Rehman referred to as 'uncle' but who was actually only related by marriage, was disparaging about the family.
"They are troublesome people. They are all trouble creator rather than problem solver."
Chaudhry contacted another uncle, a blood relative this time, who also confirmed on video that Jameel ur Rehman had never worked in Rawalpindi as a hotel cook.
Yet that's the document, now established as fraudulent, used to obtain a New Zealand work permit.
"I'm sure he is interested in getting permanent residence in New Zealand," says Chaudhry to Investigate, and the word in the community is that he is close to getting it approved."
After talking to others, and piecing together some of the timeframes in Rehman's letters and diary entries, Chaudhry told the NZIS that rather than working at the Hotel Adil between 1995 and 2000, the real sequence of events was this:
1995-1996: Rehman studied at the Madrassa Jamia Usman Bin Affan, in Bahawalpur, Pakistan.
1996-1998: Rehman was living and working in Saudi Arabia, including performing the Hajj pilgrimage in 1997.
1999-2001: Rehman returned to Pakistan to study at the madrassa Satiana in Faisalabad.
With all this evidence then, you'd have to again ask the question, "why is Rehman still here?" The answer appears to lie in political correctness – the Muslim extremist has played the 'victim' card.
The Waikato restaurant owner, Javed Chaudhry, admits becoming increasingly concerned about the backgrounds of his two staff during late 2002 and 2003, yet he did not approach the authorities until July 2004. During this time, his relationships with the two migrants deteriorated. The men were themselves suspicious of Chaudhry and whether he would dob them in. They knew he had read their mail and diaries. Anwar decided to shift into the garage, out of the main house, and Rehman soon followed. Despite the fact that the shift was their own choice, as even the Employment Relations Authority later noted in a decision on the case, that didn't stop the migrants spinning a tale of "slavery" to anyone who would listen.
"I did not know anybody because I was not allowed to talk [to] anyone," Jameel ur Rehman later testified at a Pakistan Association meeting. "I was not allowed to go outside of my garage where I live three and half years as prisoner with my master's car. Only the man I know, that was my Master."
That's what Rehman told the Pakistani community in New Zealand, but it conflicts with evidence he later provided to the Employment Relations hearing. He included a statement from Hamilton woman Judith Griffiths who said she'd known Rehman and Anwar since August 2002, when they'd met via an Indian student who was boarding with her.
While Rehman was telling people he was a prisoner, didn't know anyone and was not able to talk to anyone, Griffiths told the hearing something different:
"My house had a back door and yard completely hidden from the street. Jameel and Anwar would race down the side of my house to this sanctuary and knock on the kitchen door…Over time, [they made] repeated visits (sometimes at 5am)…From my home they rang home and spoke freely for the first time without Javed listening to every word."
Griffiths, incidentally, could not speak Urdu. There was no danger that she would understand anything the men were discussing on the phone, if it indeed was sensitive.
And now another claim that Rehman made to the Pakistan Association meeting:
"We were two peoples in garage. I sleep on one side of Master car and [Anwar] sleep on other side of car. There were no toilet facilities in garage and some time we have to do our 'morning' in shaper [sic] bags and dispose it in restaurant's toilets where I worked three and a half years…"
Significantly, the Employment Relations adjudicator did not believe Rehman's story in this regard.
"Having reviewed all the evidence," wrote Vicki Campbell in her judgment, "I am satisfied that the accommodation provided for Mr ur Rehman and Mr Anwar was not as it was described by the applicant and his witnesses. At the investigation meeting, Ms Griffiths accepted that she was relying on what she had been told by Mr ur Rehman about his living conditions and that she had never checked it out [our emphasis].
"It was common ground that initially Mr ur Rehman and Mr Anwar shared a sleepout and that they had access to the main house to use the bathroom and ablution facilities. After the family moved to larger accommodation, Mr ur Rehman shared a room with Mr Chaudhry's son…Mr Anwar left the family-provided accommodation for a short while and then returned. Initially Mr Anwar was sleeping in the lounge room, but then moved into the garage.
"I am satisfied that Mr ur Rehman, on his own initiative, moved into the internal garage with Mr Anwar for a period of time. During that time Mr Rehman had access to the shower [etc]…"
Another inconvenient truth that suggests Jameel ur Rehman was lying is that in November 2003 he and Anwar were left in charge of the restaurant and the house while Javed Chaudhry and his family traveled back to Pakistan for a family wedding – they did not return until February 2004. "This is hardly the action of someone keeping 'slaves'," exclaims Chaudhry.
The ERA threw out the wilder claims, but did ping Chaudhry for failing to include the Holidays Act in his pay calculations. Nonetheless, the ERA did make a number of wildly politically correct findings of its own. It suggested the "search of Mr ur Rehman's personal belongings in his flat and the reading of personal mail and diaries" amounted to a "breach" of the Employment Relations Act.
Never mind the fact that the correspondence disclosed affiliation to a major international terrorist organization. Even alleged supporters of Islamic terror groups have rights under the Employment Relations Act that trump national security concerns, according to the ERA.
For the record, the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council have long-established rulings that "there is no confidence in iniquity", meaning that anything containing evidence of illegality or a security threat automatically loses any privacy protections. Chaudhry was acting within the law in keeping an eye on the correspondence, despite what employment law might say.
Chaudhry was also criticized by the Employment Authority for notifying New Zealand Immigration Service of the terror allegations. This, too, said adjudicator Vicki Campbell, was a breach of Rehman's rights as an employee.
Chaudhry, for his part, admits to being torn as a businessman between the need to keep his restaurant running (and sacking his two chefs was not going to be helpful) and the need to advise the government of the security risks. This was one of the reasons it took some time to come forward. And even after he blew the whistle on Muhammad Anwar, he did not approach police about Rehman until 12 months later – again, coinciding with the renewal point of his work permit.
In the Employment Relations Authority hearing, Chaudhry's critics argued the decision to dob in the men had more to do with a revenge strike over Anwar and Rehman's political lobbying within the Pakistani community against Chaudhry – and the employment allegations - than national security.
Chaudhry, on the other hand, says it was simply the result of the working relationship deteriorating, and the reality that the men could apply to work for another employer who did not know their backgrounds.
It would be fair to say Chaudhry was, however, surprised at the level of political lobbying the men managed to do. They quickly found heavyweight support within the Pakistan Association of New Zealand – some of whose members originate from the same areas and with similar views to Anwar and Rehman. Chaudhry is incensed that Rehman was wheeled into a PANZ AGM to spin what the employment adjudicator later ruled was a false story about his treatment at the hands of Chaudhry, without PANZ giving Chaudhry a hearing on the matter.
Chaudhry points to his own background as an Executive Member, Vice President and Treasurer in the Executive Committee of the Manawatu Muslim Association, Palmerston North, between 1995 and 2001. At the end of 2001 he and his family moved to Hamilton, where they've been involved in community initiatives through the city council and the Pakistan Kiwi Friendship Association of New Zealand, which Chaudhry founded three years ago.
"Like any other normal Muslim," he says, "I am also against extremism and terrorism and very much concerned about the security and prosperity of my country of origin, Pakistan, and country of adoption, New Zealand."
The bottom line, he argues, is that Anwar and Rehman have clear uncontested links to Lashkar e Taiba, and hardline Islamic fundamentalist madrassas, coupled with their entry to New Zealand on false documents.
Contrast the liberties extended to Jameel ur Rehman, with the case of Iranian Christian convert and hunger striker Ali Panah – now facing deportation because the Government doesn't believe his conversion to Christianity is genuine. As more than one critic of the government's position has pointed out, what would Labour MPs know about Christianity?
Regardless, here's how Victoria University's Salient newspaper described the arrest of Ali Panah once his refugee appeal was lost:
"[Panah's former boss Bruce] Keane says Panah moved from Iran to South Korea more than five years ago. While working and living there, Panah converted to Christianity from Islam. "What he did is he sent his mother a tape of his baptism and it got intercepted [by Iranian authorities], so in his absence he was sentenced to death." Panah has never returned to Iran to appeal the charges.
"Keane recalls the day Panah was arrested by immigration authorities. He said that while the two were working at a client's property, he received a call from the Immigration Department asking if Keane was with Panah. "I said, 'yeah, he's with me', and they said, 'keep him there, we're coming to interview him'." Keane told Panah that they needed to wait for the authorities to arrive, and hour and a half later, two police officers and one Immigration officer arrived with a police wagon. "The next thing was that his hands were up his back and he was handcuffed. People were looking from the house [the two were working at] amazed at what was going on." Completely taken by surprise, Panah was given his rights and placed inside the police wagon, which took him to an Auckland police station.
"Keane says he is appalled at how the authorities dealt with the situation. "It was just the way it was done. They didn't have to do that on private property and it was at the back of the house with people looking." Keane says he later returned to his client's home where the arrest took place to explain what had happened. "They were pretty horrified that that was what all it was about," he says.
"Keane also exclusively told Salient of Panah's first few days under police custody. On the day of his arrest, Keane says Panah had been working inside a sewer. He says he told the authorities at the time that Panah, who was saturated in waste, was a health hazard to himself and others and therefore needed a shower and a change of clothes, "but they didn't want to know", he says. "The next day, I went up to the police station and took him a pair of clothes and toiletries, and they refused to accept anything."
"Keane says three days later when Panah appeared in court, the police still hadn't offered him a shower and a change of clothes. "And in court I had to stand up and say this man would be a health hazard to everybody…" Keane says at this point, the judge present ordered the police to allow Panah a shower and a clean set of clothes.
"It's important to mention that Keane is not the typical person you would expect to find supporting an asylum seeker. But Keane says Panah isn't a typical asylum seeker. "It's crazy, our law," says Keane. "If you have a look around, most of the immigration people who come to this country are on the dole or in Housing New Zealand homes and they're getting carried by the workforce. But you get a guy who can do it and is capable of doing everything and we refuse him."
Another Iranian convert to Christianity, a mother of two, has just been jailed in Auckland this month for two years for an irregularity on her immigration papers. She had failed to mention that she also had Turkish citizenship. For lying, she has been imprisoned and separated from her two children. She lost her appeal for home detention.
Jameel ur Rehman, on the other hand, appears to have been given every assistance by the New Zealand government, despite being associated with a banned terrorist organization.
It is also ironic that the treatment meted out to Christian convert Ali Panah by an NZ government agency – being made to spend three days in sewage-encrusted clothing with no shower or change of clothes – is far worse than anything Rehman or Anwar suffered in New Zealand – or even allegedly suffered – at the hands of whistleblower Javed Chaudhry.
November 13, 2008
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