Monday, October 22, 2007

Kiwiland Faces Terrorism? Maybe

US President George W. Bush was among the possible targets in threats recorded by New Zealand police who have arrested 17 people in an anti-terrorist sweep, a report said Sunday.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and opposition leader John Key were also discussed as potential targets, the Sunday Star-Times said quoting intelligence sources.

Washington is said to have agreed to let New Zealand police handle the investigation, the report said.

Clark and Key have both confirmed they were briefed by police ahead of last week's police raids but would not comment on whether they were possible targets.

Earlier this year Bush and wife Laura were tipped to make a brief visit to New Zealand at the conclusion of a summit of Asia-Pacific nations in Sydney in September.

US Embassy spokeswoman Janine Burns declined to comment on whether any threat to Bush was a factor in his decision not to go to New Zealand.

The police operation, following a 22-month investigation into alleged terrorist training camps, had been treated with widespread scepticism in New Zealand.

However, Police Association president Greg O'Connor said the public should withhold judgment until the full facts of the case emerge.

He said the operation had been "triggered by credible intelligence of a serious threat to New Zealand's safety and security" and was a reality check for people who considered homegrown terrorism to be laughable.

But the Herald on Sunday newspaper said that activist Jamie Lockett, one of the 17 people arrested, claimed incriminating text and phone messages had been deliberately sent to wind up police who had been bugging his phone.

During a bail hearing for Lockett last week, prosecutors said he had sent a series of text messages saying he intended to launch a war.

The messages, intercepted by police, were said to include "White men are going to die in this country" and "I'm declaring war on this country very soon."

During the raids, police seized several weapons, including AK-47s, and other military equipment.

Most of those arrested face firearms charges with police considering whether further charges will be laid under anti-terrorism laws.

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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

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