Wrong target?

There is criticism of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) in the New Zealand Herald following the mosque terror attack in Christchurch that killed fifty people. The newspaper poses the question: has the NZSIS taken its eye off the threat of far right extremism? The newspaper points out that the Service’s numbers have doubled in the past six years so it is not a question of lack of resources. Have they been wasting their time looking at the wrong target?

This seems a little unfair. In the first place, the terrorist was an Australian, although there are questions around the issue of how he was able to get the weapons he used. In the second place, while it is true that numbers have doubled, NZSIS was never very big in the first place and now comprises barely more than three hundred officers. Not so bad if you are monitoring the generally peaceable New Zealanders, but not so good if you are trying to stop a deranged Australian from planning an attack in your country.

NZSIS Director-General, Rebecca Kitteridge, has admitted that NZSIS only really started to pay attention to far-right extremism about nine months ago (see https://www.nzsis.govt.nz/news/nzsis-welcomes-inquiry-into-the-christchurch-terrorist-attacks/). But seeing as this was a threat that developed in Australia, then, if the blame lies anywhere, perhaps it lies with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) rather than the NZSIS?

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