Mr Andrews said the AFP had told him before making his visa decision that police suspected the internet conversation may be evidence Dr Haneef had prior knowledge of the UK bomb plot.
“And secondly, the AFP consider Dr Haneef’s attempted urgent departure from Australia on a one-way ticket for a purpose which appears to be a false pretext to be highly suspicious and may reflect Haneef’s awareness of the conspiracy to plan and prepare the acts of terrorism in London and Glasgow.
“The suspicion which the federal police referred to in terms of Dr Haneef was that he was wanting to get out of Australia not because of the reason proffered, namely that the child had been born – remembering that that child had been born I think six days earlier.
“That that was a pretext, a false pretext, on which he was wanting to get out of Australia because of his association with the Ahmed brothers, the cousins, and the incidents which had occurred in the UK.”
The chatroom conversation which Andrews is describing took place the same day that Haneef attempted to fly to India, July 2. The Glasgow car-bomb attempt took place two days earlier. It’s hard to see how such a conversation implies prior knowledge of any plot.
However, it certainly does raise questions about Haneef’s motivation for leaving in such a hurry, and using the birth of his daughter as the explanation. Perhaps it was mere nerves about his connection with Kafeel Ahmed making him liable to arrest and questioning, and so he brought forward his plans to travel to see his daughter. Perhaps it was more than that.
But although this information as presented does cast more doubt upon Haneef, and the revelation that it was the British police who were responsible for the misinformation about where his SIM card was found does clear the AFP of some of the aura of bungling around this case, it hardly reassures about the government’s competence in this matter. Obviously, the SIM card not being found in Glasgow meant that the original charge against Haneef was not viable. However, if this just-released evidence is being accurately described by the Minister, then new questions regarding the competence of the investigation and ministerial decisions arise.
- the suspicion of links to the bombing conspiracy is well supported, which justifies the Minister’s original decision but raises the question of why Haneef was allowed to leave Australian without conspiracy charges being laid,
- the suspicion of links to the bombing conspiracy is not well supported, which justifies the decision to drop all charges without further investigation but raises the question of why Haneef’s visa should not therefore be reinstated.
Kevin Andrews appears to want to have his cake and eat it too. The logic fails.