An ABC Four Corners investigation has found at least six people-smuggling agents came to Australia posing as genuine asylum seekers and that all were granted residency. They have been operating from Australia for the past two years.
AU NEWS (H/T Shirl in Oz) The kingpin, a man who goes by the name of Captain Emad, has been living just a few kilometres from the Australian Federal Police headquarters in Canberra.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the Four Corners revelations were an extraordinary indictment of the Government’s incompetence in protecting Australia’s borders. “The obvious question that occurs is that if the TV stations can find them, why can’t the government stop them?” he said.
Mr Abbott criticised the Government for standing by its people-swap arrangement with Malaysia, describing it as a “dud deal”. He insisted there was nothing to stop the Government from reopening Nauru’s detention centre immediately and reintroducing temporary protection visas.
“They are arrogantly refusing to do it because they don’t want to admit John Howard’s policies were right.”
A people trafficking kingpin allegedly smuggled himself, his family and colleagues into Australia posing as asylum seekers before brazenly working under the nose of the government as a shopping trolley collector in Canberra.
In damaging claims against immigration authorities, Iraqi people smuggler Emad Abdul Razak Tharmir al Absi was allegedly fast-tracked through Australian visa processing and granted residence, along with at least six smuggling agents, two years ago.
His audacious swindle has reportedly allowed himself and his family to first reside in Brisbane and then the nation’s capital, with some living in taxpayer-funded public housing across Canberra. He and his fellow agents, all who received refugee status, have allegedly continued to operate their illegal trade from Sydney and Melbourne.
Four Corners alleged Capt Emad’s network was still working from Australia, including lying to the families of 97 asylum seekers who disappeared on a boat in November 2010 while pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars from them. Capt Emad – allegedly processed in Australia under the name Ali al Abassi – was recently found working as a trolley supervisor at Gungahlin shopping centre in Canberra.
The ABC show said the main players in the people smuggling network met in early 2010 at a Jakarta restaurant, where Capt Emad joined smugglers named Abu Ali al Kuwaiti, Mohammed Basrawi and his brother Watheq, and Abdullah al Sharifi. The group discussed how to avoid authorities, including the Immigration Department, Border Protection and the Federal Police.
An Iraqi refugee helping Four Corners as a whistleblower, Hussain Nasir, claimed there were many smugglers now living in Australia and described Capt Emad as “head of the smugglers”. “He’s the head of the snake,” Nasir told the show.
The show said Capt Emad was chosen to lead the trip, which left a North Java port on January 10, 2010. He and his team had kept away from other passengers, while an Indonesian initially drove the boat. On the second night the Indonesian pilot put on a life jacket, threw a drum in the water, took his radio and jumped into the sea. A boat was waiting to pick him up.
Capt Emad, a trained ship’s captain, allegedly took over the boat and the food and equipment. One of those on board, Mustapha, said: “He had a map and a compass and he was studying (them) to plot the right course.”
But, as the group approached Christmas Island, Capt Emad allegedly stopped the boat and threw his equipment, including a satellite phone, into the sea. He then let off flares to summon the Royal Australian Navy. Another person on board, Rahim, said: “When Australian officials came after Emad fired the flares, he left the wheel house and went to the back of the boat. He was trying to (hide) he was in charge.”
The boat was listed by the government as having 43 passengers and no crew. Four Corners said Capt Emad had sent his wife, adult children and dependants by boat ahead of him in 2009, with all granted refugee status, while the adults were provided with government housing.
On the boat that arrived in January 2010, Capt Emad also allegedly brought his daughter-in-law and her child. In April 2010, Immigration allegedly gave Capt Emad a protection visa and Australian residency, while at least six agents on Capt Emad’s boat received refugee status and were released from detention to cities across Australia.
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