LEFT-WING NAIVETY is nothing new, but its power to astound and enrage has not diminished. The scorn heaped upon the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) for failing to intercept a recent threat to the Christchurch Muslim community is a case in point.
The official version of this event has the Police receiving a tip-off from a member of the public. Someone who just happened to be hanging-out in the digital neighbourhood of 4-Chan’s most dangerous white supremacists stumbled, quite accidentally, upon plans to car-bomb the two mosques attacked by Brenton Tarrant in 2019, and like any public-spirited citizen, he called the cops.
This may, of course, be a true story. The informant’s accidental discovery of a terrorist plot may, indeed, be just one of those amazing examples of pure dumb luck that sometimes happens in this funny old world. Then again, it might not.
Maybe, just maybe, the official version of events bears absolutely no resemblance to what actually happened.
Because, let’s face it, if the SIS is doing exactly what the Left has been urging it to do since 15 March 2019; if it has made the surveillance, interception, infiltration and disruption of white supremacist groups its top counter-intelligence priority; then what possible motive would it have for announcing the fact – and offering public proof of its effectiveness – to the individuals and organisations it is watching?
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the SIS and its sister organisation, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) have not only been monitoring the “chatter” on 4-Chan, but that they have an agent, or agents, masquerading as hardline white supremacists participating energetically in any number of extremist chat-rooms. Let’s also assume that they are receiving a steady flow of HUMINT (human intelligence) from spies embedded in far-right and white supremacist groups. In these circumstances, only an imbecile would jeopardise these operations by waving their hands in the air and shouting “Lookit! Lookit! We’ve caught ourselves a terrorist!”
Surely, the SIS’s more likely response, in the event of it learning of a credible plan to car-bomb Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre on the second anniversary of Tarrant’s attacks, would be to let the world believe that the plot’s discovery was due entirely to the initiative of a sharp-eyed and public-spirited citizen who saw something and said something … to the Police?
If this was indeed the SIS’s response, then the loud braying of the Left will, for once, be a welcome noise. Criticism of the SIS’s “failure” to take white supremacism seriously will be music to the Service’s ears. The longer the far-right can be persuaded that the national security apparatus remains blind to the threat posed to New Zealanders by their most extreme elements, the better chance the government’s secret agents will have of shutting these extremists down.
It is, however, unlikely that the SIS chiefs will be placing too much faith in the Left’s condemnation of their inadequacies. Merely by reading the public disclosures of experts on the far-right, like Professor Paul Spoonley, they will be aware that more and more of New Zealand’s right-wing extremists are learning the basic trade-craft of clandestine political organisation. Aware that unfriendly eyes are on them, these groups are encrypting their communications and vetting with great thoroughness every potential recruit to their cause. Such people and groups are unlikely to risk saying anything potentially incriminating on 4-Chan – not when there are many much safer places on the Internet in which to take refuge.
Given that one of the persons arrested by the Police was released without charge, and the individual in custody was charged under the Crimes Act – rather than the Terrorism Suppression Act – with Threatening To Kill, one might even speculate that there is more than a faint whiff of public relations about the whole incident.
Face it, rigging a car-bomb – especially one intended to be detonated remotely, rather than delivered directly to the target by a driver willing to sacrifice their own life for the cause – is not a game for amateurs. A former, or active duty, soldier, highly trained in the use of explosives and detonation devices, might be capable of such an attack. Alternatively, skilled and experienced operatives with similar backgrounds might be imported to perpetrate the outrage. With New Zealand’s borders closed by the Covid-19 Pandemic, however, this latter scenario can be confidently discounted. It is also inconceivable that the arrest of a suspect with such a military background would not have prompted a significantly higher security response on the part of the authorities.
How much more likely is it that a couple of idiots, talking big on what was effectively an “open line” were easily intercepted by the SIS and GCSB “watchers”; and that their identity was made known to the Police – not because they posed a serious threat to the Christchurch Muslim community, but because announcing the arrest of a couple of far-right, Islamophobic terrorist wannabes, just days away from the second anniversary of the Mosque Massacres, would constitute a major public relations coup?
Such an operation would achieve a number of objectives. First and foremost, it would reassure Muslim New Zealanders that their fellow citizens and, of course, the Police, still have their back – thereby reconfirming “They Are Us” in the most dramatic fashion. Secondly, it would serve as a reminder that there was still a great deal of hate out there – murderous hate. Precisely the sort of hate that the Labour Government is determined to keep in check with its proposed legislation outlawing “hate speech”. Thirdly, as intimated above, the circumstances of the alleged offender’s apprehension would set up the SIS and the GCSB for exactly the sort of left-wing bollocking that has, in fact, occurred. Criticism which, hopefully, will make the Service’s surveillance, interception, infiltration and disruption operations all the more effective. Assuming, of course, that the far-right is as predictable in its stupidity as the far-left!
At the very heart of the Left’s stupidity on national security matters is its lamentable unfamiliarity with the basic techniques of counter-intelligence. In their reckless, ideologically-driven haste to smash the infrastructure of white supremacism in New Zealand, the far-left critics of the SIS and the GCSB are openly embracing the maximum possible deployment of state surveillance and interception technology.
To root out Islamophobia and silence hate speech, they are happy to have the national security apparatus secure the demise of far-right extremists by any means necessary. That their own uncompromising demands are as predictable as they are extreme does not appear to have occurred to them. That their antipathy to the far-right might be used to the long-term advantage of the security services has, similarly, never crossed their minds.
Nor, apparently, has the realisation that, when they have rounded up the last ethno-nationalist extremist, those same security services will come after the Left with exactly the same surveillance technology and censorship powers. More tellingly, they will be able to do so citing precedents with which the Left itself has furnished them. The far-left critics of the national security apparatus will be hung by a rope which they, themselves, have twisted.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 9 March 2021.