The Federal Opposition is calling on the Government to explain whether the public faces a threat from a terrorist cell operating in Australia.
The call, by Opposition foreign-affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd, follows the capture of French terrorist suspect Willie Virgile Brigitte in Sydney.
Mr Rudd has accused the Government of selectively revealing information about Mr Brigitte’s activities and a possible terrorist cell in Australia.
He says the Australian public deserves the truth.
“The Government has said on some occasions that they have broken up the terrorist cell with which Brigitte has been associated in Australia, and, on other occasions, the Government has said they have merely disrupted that terrorist cell. So I think the Australian people would like to know if this terrorist cell is still in existence or not, whether it has been disrupted, broken up or completely undermined. But we don’t have any clarity from the Howard Government on that.”
Mr Brigitte was deported to France earlier this month after French authorities told Australia he was believed to have been involved in terrorist-related activities.
He has reportedly told interrogators that an associate in Pakistan told him to make contact with an explosives expert after he arrived in Australia.
Mr Brigitte has also revealed he was asked to shelter the expert with known terrorist links in Sydney.
Mr Brigitte is alleged to have received arms training with groups linked to al-Qaeda in Pakistan and to have tried to join the Taliban in 2001.
Mr Rudd says the Government needs to clarify why Mr Brigitte was given an Australian tourist visa if the French authorities suspected him of terrorist activities.
But Prime Minister John Howard says the Government acted as soon as French intelligence services told Australia what they suspected about Mr Brigitte.