Intelligence Services Recruit Dozens More Spies With Asian Language Skills, But Share Only 12 Arabic Speakers Amongst Five Agencies
Australian Government Has Doubled Staff Of Key Intelligence Agency Since 9/11
While sections of the Australian media and commetariat have been obsessed with paranoid fears that Australian society as they know it will somehow be undone by the 300,000 Muslims who now call Australia their home, the much more realistic security threat appears to be the alleged 1000 Chinese spies living and working here.
In less than five years, the Australian government has doubled the staff of the chief intelligence agency, ASIO, to more than 1600, and have recruited nearly 90 foreign language speaking spies and analysts.
But only twelve of those new recruits speak and read Arabic. More than 70 have been hired specifically because of their skills with Chinese and Asian languages.
The government claims that they are having trouble recruiting fluent Arabic speakers.
The impression is given that those who can speak and read Arabic don't want to work for Australia's intelligence agencies. To become an Australian spy or intelligence analyst, new recruits are subjected to lengthy and highly intrusive 'screening' procedures.
Former analyst Andrew Wilkie has claimed (in his book 'Axis of Deceit') that every single address each new recruit has ever lived at is examined, as well as the backgrounds of those they frequently associate with, be they friends, family members or former co-workers.
Having to explain your relationships, your employment history and your international travel history would prove difficult for most young Australians, not just those who can read and speak Arabic languages.
There is little to suggest that those who offer Chinese and Asian language skills as part of their resume are subjected to less investigation and background checks than those who can handle the complexities of Arabic.
So what's going on here?
Is the threat posed by Chinese spies and espionage greater or less than that posed by Middle Easterners?
So great is the need to recruit Chinese and Asian language speaking spies and analysts in Australia that ASIO has formed a new counter-espionage unit specifically to deal with the perceived threat.
And yet, the five key intelligence agencies are said to share amongst themselves only some 12 people skilled in Arabic languages.
The disparity of new recruits skilled in one set of foreign languages compared to another is vast.
Which raises the question : Is the threat of Chinese espionage now viewed as a greater threat to Australian security than that posed by jihadists or extremists of Middle Eastern backgrounds?
It is also interesting to note that in recent months, senior officials and ministers of the Australian government, including the prime minister, John Howard, are now using the words "extremists" and "radicals" where they had previously word-punched "terrorists."
'Extremist', of course, is even more open to broad definitions and categorisations than 'terrorist'.
So presumably it is no accident that senior government officials are reflecting US President Bush and UK Prime Minister Blair in their change of words to describe the what are deemed to be the key threats to national security.
It's out with "terrorists" and in with "extremists" and "radicals".
The threat of terrorism, it would then appear, is far less than the threat posed by government and corporate espionage, from the Chinese in particular, sniffing out details of new military hardware and software, courtesy of the United States, and examining Australia's relationship with 'The Locals' - Fiji, Tonga, East Timor, the Solomon Islands.
From 'The Australian' :
....many of the new recruits are fluent Chinese speakers who have been assigned to a new ASIO counter-espionage unit specifically to combat the increased number of Chinese spies in Australia.
Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock told The Australian that ASIO needed recruits with "a range of experience and backgrounds".
The new intake of Chinese-speaking ASIO officers has bolstered its capacity to monitor the activities of Chinese spies, which now outnumber the Russians that dominated Canberra intelligence circles during the Cold War.
....senior government sources believed Australia had been targeted aggressively in recent years by Chinese spies seeking information on military-related technology and strategic policy secrets.
"China would be the biggest now by a fair way ... they have built up their capabilities over the last 10 years and are more aggressive in their activities," the source said.
China has denied it has spies in Australia, a claim dismissed by security officials who say they operate mostly under diplomatic cover and under the guise of businessmen.
ASIO has now established what has been called "a dedicated division" to ramp up defences against the increased threat posed by "foreign spies."
Since September 11, 2001, ASIO has given its greatest emphasis and resources to the threats posed by terrorism, particularly those threats that may have originated from jihadists or Middle Easterners.
But the establishment of a Counter-Espionage and Foreign Interference Division by ASIO
clearly shows the chief threats to Australia's security have changed in the past two years.
And this change of percieved threats appears to have begun somewhere around the time that a Chinese diplomat announced that there were some 1000 Chinese spies living and working inside Australia.
Many of the recruits will work in the counter-espionage unit of the new division, which was set up in July. A separately managed unit on "foreign interference" completes the new division.
The division's mission is to "address threats from espionage and foreign interference that complements the focus on terrorism and other extremist activity", ASIO said.
When Australia's chief spy agency is dishing up such details to a national newspaper you can assume they want their friends and enemies to know what's going on, and where their focus is now centred.
June 2005 : Attorney General Confirms Australian Intelligence Agencies Looking Into Claims Of Chinese Spies In Australia
Chinese Diplomat Claims At Least 1000 Chinese Spies Inside Australia
Defector Claims To Be Chinese Spy Master
Mossad In Australia : The New Zealand False Passports Scandal
Government Denies Mossad Obtained 25 Australian Passports
Australia's Top Cop : Don't Blame Australian Muslims For Terror
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