Our spies at risk in hot spots

Townsville Bulletin - - NATION -

AUS­TRALIAN spies are head­ing into ji­hadi hot spots with­out weapons or self- de­fence skills be­cause agen­cies do not have the power to au­tho­rise train­ing.

ASIS in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tives are now more at risk than ever be­fore, a gov­ern­ment re­port warns, with agents work­ing in hos­tile en­vi­ron­ments that have a height­ened risk of ter­ror­ism.

“There have been fun­da­men­tal changes in ASIS’s op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment as a re­sult of in­creas­ing ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties and the threat of weapons pro­lif­er­a­tion, and agents should be able to pro­tect them­selves in th­ese cir­cum­stances,” the In­de­pen­dent In­tel­li­gence Re­view warned.

Some in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tors have been given the spe­cialised train­ing clear­ance since 2001 but only af­ter get­ting ap­proval by the min­is­ter un­der “strictly lim­ited cir­cum­stances”.

The re­port rec­om­mended ASIS be given the au­thor­ity to train op­er­a­tives with­out the need for min­is­te­rial ap­proval.

There are strict laws pro­hibit­ing in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tives from car­ry­ing weapons or even learn­ing how to shoot or de­fend them­selves with hand- to­hand com­bat. In­stead, most ASIS op­er­a­tives are flanked by Aus­tralian Spe­cial Forces on over­seas mis­sions for their pro­tec­tion.

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