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Australian state to increase secret police powers

AFP | Oct 21 2004

Australia's most populous state has announced it will give counter-terrorism police increased powers to carry out covert surveillance to help them break up extremist cells.
New South Wales Premier Bob Carr said police would be able to obtain covert search warrants, allowing them to enter homes, conduct searches and install listening devices without the resident being informed.

Carr said the powers would also create a new prison classification for terrorists and let authorities monitor prisoner communications more closely.

"These changes will give police the power to observe potential terrorists covertly over long periods and develop intelligence about their networks," he told the state parliament.

"Evidence suggests potential terrorists take time to settle in a new country, build up connections and wait for instructions or opportunities."

Australia has so far avoided a terrorist strike on domestic soil. But New South Wales police charged two Sydney residents earlier this year with planning to carry out an attack after allegedly being recruited to a terrorist cell by Frenchman Willie Brigitte.

Brigitte was deported from Australia late last year and is being held by French authorities. They suspect he was planning an attack "of great size" in Australia, possibly last year's Rugby World Cup or the country's only nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights on Sydney's outskirts.

Brigitte and the two Sydney men allegedly had links to Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which the Australian government officially declared a terrorist organisation last November.