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[Dehai-WN] AFP: Australian commandos operating in Kenya

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2012 15:10:51 +0100

Australian commandos operating in Kenya

Posted by <http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/author/afp12327/> AFP on March
13, 2012

Report suggests the commandos were taking up clandestine activities/FILE

SYDNEY, Mar 13 - Australian special forces have been operating in several
African countries including Kenya over the past year gathering intelligence
on terrorist activities, a report said on Tuesday.

The Sydney Morning Herald said 4 Squadron of the elite Special Air Service
(SAS) had mounted dozens of clandestine operations in places such as Kenya,
Zimbabwe, Nigeria and in a role normally carried out by spies.

Citing a government source, it said the missions by the previously unknown
squadron were believed to involve terrorism intelligence gathering amid
concerns about the threat posed by the Islamist Al-Shabaab militia.

They are also aimed at developing rescue strategies for evacuating trapped
Australian civilians while assessing African border controls and exploring
landing sites for possible military interventions.

The information gathered flows into databases used by the United States and
its allies, it said.

The Herald added the operations have raised serious concerns among some
sections of the military and intelligence communities that the troops do not
have adequate legal protection or contingency plans if they are captured.

"They have all the espionage skills but without (Australian Secret
Intelligence Service's) legal cover," said one government source.

According to the newspaper, ASIS officers are permitted under Australian law
to carry false passports and, if arrested, to deny who they are employed by.

Defence Force members, such as the SAS, on normal operations cannot carry
false identification and cannot deny which government they work for.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith refused to confirm the group's existence
"because we don't want to put at risk either operations or our national

But he insisted that all Australian operatives overseas did their job within
the law and had proper protection.

"People would expect from time to time the SAS, ASIS, and department of
foreign affairs and trade are involved in making sure Australians overseas
are not at risk," he told Sky News.

"Whenever we have our people in the field they have the proper and
appropriate protections.

"Whether someone is working for ASIS or someone is operating for or with the
SAS, we ensure they operate in accordance with domestic and international
law and that they have appropriate and proper protection."


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