Even in quiet peaceful New Zealand.
There are al Qaeda operatives in New Zealand who were trained in camps overseas, Prime Minister John Key says.
He was explaining on Thursday why the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) needs to have the authority to spy on New Zealanders on behalf of the police and the Security Intelligence Service (SIS).
“In the real world, in New Zealand, there are people who have been trained in al Qaeda camps, who operate out of New Zealand, who are in contact with people overseas, who have gone off to Yemen and other countries to train,” he said on MoreFM.
“That’s the real world, that’s the reality of what we’re dealing with.
“I accept there’s a balance between national security and privacy but people need to put a bit of perspective around it.”
Mr Key says flags are raised when suspicious phone calls are made.
“If you dialled up a person on an international list, an al Qaeda operative, you could be reasonably sure that would set a flag up somewhere – and for bloody good reason.”
The bill that gives the GCSB authority to spy on New Zealanders is due for its second reading in parliament on Thursday afternoon.
Opposition parties oppose it.
Mr Key says Labour is playing politics and the Greens simply don’t believe the state should have any powers.
“That’s a lovely world to live in,” he said.
Mr Key explained the GCSB helped other agencies for years, right through the term of the previous Labour government.
He said the bill gives it legal authority to do that, and significantly strengthens oversight of its surveillance.
It wasn’t until last year that it was discovered legislation covering the GCSB had a clause in it which forbids it to spy on citizens or residents.
It stopped helping the police and the SIS in August last year, and won’t start again until the bill is passed.
Mr Key says national security has been compromised in the meantime.
I have interviewed a New Zealander, a convert to Islam and who was trained by Muslim terrorists in the Middle East and sent back to New Zealand as a “sleeper.”
He told me that his Mosque – by no means an extremist one, was full of young men who adored New Zealand. They loved the beaches, the lifestyle – but they still wanted to go and commit at least one act of Jihad in their lives.
And yet there are still people who tell us the government should have no surveillance powers.