The head of Australia’s domestic intelligence agency has made a bold declaration about Palestinian group Hamas.
The head of Australia’s domestic spy agency has thrown his support behind listing the entirety of Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
ASIO director-general Mike Burgess said he did not have an issue with the listing the entire Palestinian group.
“Yes I would support it, but I am not the decision maker,” Mr Burgess told a parliamentary inquiry on Friday.
“There is a difference between Hamas and people who consider themselves Palestinian. If they support Hamas, then they would be supporting a terrorist organisation.”
At present, Australia only recognises the group’s paramilitary wing as a terror group.
But Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of a pro-Israel group known as the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, said the idea of “wings” within Hamas was fiction.
Dr Schanzer said the Home Affairs Minister should list the entirety of Hamas under the Criminal Code.
“There is no separating the Izz-Add brigades (the paramilitary) from the broader organisation,” he said on Friday.
“This is a fiction perpetuated by those who wish to engage with elements of the terrorist group.
“The entry of Hamas should be listed as a terrorist group in Australia and around the world.”
Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan and the United States have designated the entirety of Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
In order to be listed as a terrorist organisation, an agency would need to nominate Hamas to the Department of Home Affairs.
There is no nomination for the broader group before the department, but representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Home Affairs confirmed to the committee they could make a nomination themselves.
Mr Burgess said broadening the listing to include the entire organisation would not have an impact on ASIO’s work, nor would it “present broader national security concerns”.
He said Hamas brigades were assessed as a threat to military and civilian targets in Israel.
“As a consequence, they remain a security concern to ASIO, and we support the listing,” Mr Burgess said.
“ASIO has assessed (the brigades) as a highly capable terror organisation that are committed to using terror tactics in targeting Israel.”
Listing all of Hamas as a terrorist organisation would expose its supporters to counter-terrorism laws.
The committee has been asked to review whether Al-Shabaab; the Kurdistan Workers’ Party; Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Palestinian Islamic Jihad; as well as Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades will continue to be listed as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code.
This will be the ninth time Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades will be relisted.