Australia

ASIO slaps down Hanson's claim of link between terrorism and refugees

One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson grills the ASIO director-general about Islam and foiled terror attacks on Australian soil.

Australia’s domestic spy agency has comprehensively denied there is a link between refugees coming to Australia and foiled terror attacks.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) director-general Duncan Lewis appeared before a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra last night to take questions from politicians.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson asked if the threat of terrorism and radicalisation were being brought into the country by refugees.

“I have absolutely no evidence to suggest there's a connection between refugees and terrorism,” Mr Lewis replied.

Senator Hanson attempted to get ASIO to draw a link between Islam and the twelve thwarted terrorist attacks on Australian soil in the last few years, but Mr Lewis said the religion was not to blame.

“Of the 12 ... thwarted attacks, one of those, indeed, involved a right-wing extremist, Mr Lewis said.

“So the answer is they have not all been carried out by Muslims.”

The spy chief declined to comment on potential radicalisation in Australian mosques for security reasons but said citizens weren’t targeted simply because of their faith.

“We are only interested in people who are exhibiting or offering violence,” he said.

“To the extent that there is violent extremism which is very often inspired by a warped version of Sunni Islam, that's when our interests are invoked.”

Mr Lewis also told the estimates hearing that despite Islamic State’s losses in the Middle East, the “threat of a terrorist attack against Australians and Australian interests will continue.”