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Q+A: Minister Andrew Little interviewed by Corin Dann

Mon, Mar 18

Andrew Little, the Minister responsible for the GCSB and SIS, told Q+A that New Zealand Muslims can feel safe tonight.

He says the SIS has set up an intelligence team that is working 24/7 to find out what led to Friday’s attack. He said all security agencies had a heightened sensitivity to threats:

“There is a lot of action and activity. There are people who have been online, making statements who have been interviewed by police. That will continue. So there is a level of intervention, a heightened level of monitoring.”

He doesn’t accept the criticism that New Zealand’s intelligence agencies failed by not picking up on the planning behind the Mosque attack.

“Certainly not at this point. One of the reasons we’ve commissioned an inquiry is to look at what the agencies - the spy agencies, police, customs, immigration - what their intelligence activities were picking up. What they should have known, what they could have known. And I think there’s another aspect as well too, which is to look at organisational culture for example to see whether within those organisations there were blind spots that even if there were signals, things weren’t being picked up. That’s important for reassurance about the state that those agencies are in.”

He said over the past year, the SIS has had tip-offs about right wing extremism and these have been followed up. He did not believe there had been too much focus on Islamic extremism:

“As the Minister I sign every warrant that those agencies operate under that are the most intrusive activities that they do. No warrant lasts more than 12 months. So every warrant that is actively being pursued at the moment is one that I’ve signed off. What I can say without divulging too much and compromising their ability to do their job is that a proportion of those jobs relate to extremism .. they relate to all forms of extremism.”

Please find the full interview here.


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