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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

SBS Dateline get it wrong on Afghan story

Post Script to my story: Scrutinising the media's scrutiny of defence

www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s2853029.htm
22 March 2010
In Search of Zahir Khan.

The ABC TV's Media Watch program did a take down on SBS TV's Dateline story about the Afghan scandal as reported by Sophie McNeill. Absolutely hilarious stuff up. The identity of an Afghan man, Zahir Khan, was confused with someone else over an interview concerning a botched raid by Australian Commandos which resulted in the death of 5 children in February 2009.

SOPHIE McNEILL MISSING IN ACTION?
Will the real Zahir Khan please stand up?

Old Dateline website blurb about Sophie McNeill once read: www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10004

“Pick, arguably, the most dangerous region in the world today and that’s where you'll find Sophie McNeill.”

But not according to Media Watch www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s2853029.htm

Sophie McNeill was in Australia when the story broke, and she stayed there. She couldn't have travelled safely to the remote village in Oruzgan where the killings took place. So instead, she explained to her viewers, Dateline turned for help to a producer it had worked with in Afghanistan before, called Fazel Reshad.

TEAM UZUNOV guarantee, when we do a big story we will go to the source, including on the spot in Afghanistan!


More on Sophie McNeill:


www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10004


Reporting on the Reporters - Online Opinion

and

www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10227
Scrutinising the media's scrutiny of defence

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Afghan scandal & Australian media response

www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10227
Online Opinion - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate.

Scrutinising the media's scrutiny of defence
By Sasha Uzunov - Tuesday, 30 March 2010

If the media scrutinise the tip of the spear in combat - recent Australian soldiers' behaviour on the ground in the Afghan war - then they need to scrutinise the spear throwers - the politicians and defence experts and journalists.

A case in point has been SBS TV reporter Sophie McNeill and Fairfax newspaper journalists Jonathon Pearlman and Tom Hyland who have been ferociously targeting the Australian Army’s 1 Commando Regiment over a botched raid which resulted in the killing of children in Afghanistan last February.

Soldiers from that unit, largely reservist, could possibly face legal proceedings for murder, manslaughter, negligence and so on. But there are three important issues about the Afghan incident: due process of law, the presumption of innocence and who shapes Australia’s defence policy.

McNeill, Pearlman and Hyland have probably sensed Army blood and a possible Walkley Award for what they perceive is “Australia’s My Lai”. But some of us who are journalists and ex-soldiers believe that McNeill, Pearlman and Hyland have a democratic right to scrutinise the military. We would uphold their freedom of speech. The irony is that the media do not believe that the ordinary tax payer has the right to scrutinise the media in its coverage of defence issues.

In 2008 McNeill requested I not contact her to discuss defence issues, including Afghanistan. Hyland has gone on the record to allude that those who are not Fairfax journalists but who scrutinise defence experts are involved in a curious crusade.

The question is why are Australia’s big name reporters so tough when it comes to “exposing” defence scandals but are so panicked by a few straight forward questions about their war reporting credentials?

McNeill’s boss at SBS TV’s Dateline, Peter Charley, also does not like being questioned over how defence issues are covered.

Methinks SBS, the ABC and Fairfax protesteth too much!

Hyland the “defence expert” for The Sunday Age wrote in “Deadly Afghan raids expose leadership failings” on March 21, 2010:

The regiment's experiences have triggered an intense debate within army ranks - about Special Forces tactics, and wider questions about a political and military preference for sending Special Forces, rather than large infantry units, to conflicts like Afghanistan.

It is funny for Hyland to ask this question because the answer may not be to his liking. In fact it might be too close to home, if you pardon the pun. Let me explain.

On January 21, 2005 I wrote an op-ed piece for The Herald Sun newspaper in which I was the first to indentify this change in Australian Army warfighting doctrine.

Some have criticised General (Peter) Cosgrove on his over reliance on the SAS (Special Forces) to do the fighting in East Timor that would normally have been taken up by the regular infantry. But I think this criticism is unjustified.

Criticism should be aimed at the government of the day (Howard 1996-2007) and those at home squeamish about seeing a 19-year-old lad away from home for the first time fighting a war. Better to send the SAS, whose identity cannot be revealed ...

On September 9, 2008 I wrote:


To top that off, a legacy of the Nelson-Howard military doctrine has the Special Forces doing most of the fighting (in Afghanistan), because of the fear of casualties to our regular infantry units. The long term effect could be burn out of our Special Forces. But the irony is if we withdraw our SF units and do not replace them with infantry units, then the pressure on Taliban is eased. It is one contradictory military doctrine, to say the least.


Here is a key point that has been missed, until recently: why is it Australian Defence Policy to use Special Forces in an infantry role in Afghanistan, as well as throwing Army reservists in the deep end? Who caused this dramatic shift in defence thinking?

Something Hyland has not touched upon is that the change came about in Defence policy when two key “experts”, Professor Paul Dibb and ex-Fairfax journalist turned government advisor Hugh White, decided to cut back the number of infantry. This led to the consequences of using reservists in combat roles and stretched our Special Forces to breaking point.

During Bob Hawke’s Prime Ministership (1983-91) he brought in British academic Professor Paul Dibb and ex-Fairfax journalist Hugh White. Their brief was to transform the defence department with a number of reports, Defence White Papers and so on. Instead we ended up with a mess that took more than a decade to bring under some form of control.

Mr Bruce Haigh, a former diplomat revealed during an interview with SBS TV’s Dateline program on September 27, 2000 that:

Defence is the department that’s divided amongst itself, as far as I can gather, and there are certain people inside Defence who’ve taken a certain line for a long period of time - the Paul Dibb line, if you like, which is high-tech, US-alliance - and you’ve got others who are saying, "No. We’ve got the situation to the north- we need to have more people in uniform, we need to have them trained, we need to have night-vision equipment provided for them. “… the Australian Army can see what needs to be done, but many of the civilian Defence personnel, who’ve built their careers on playing up to this particular line, are arguing the other case, and feeling increasingly isolated, because they are not facing reality. That’s the problem.

Respected Brigadier Jim Wallace, former Special Forces Commander, wrote in 2003:

Unfortunately, Australian defence policy has been mainly wrong for the whole of this period. Even after we committed troops to East Timor, Professor Paul Dibb, the policy's chief architect, was standing in front of parliamentary committees vowing that Australia would not be conducting what he called "expeditionary" operations out of the region. This was despite a series of major UN deployments over many years to places as far afield as Rwanda and Somalia. Afghanistan and Iraq have hopefully now discredited this logic.

At the same time, Dr Hugh White was arguing in initial drafts for the 2000 white paper to reduce the size of our army to about 19,000, on the basis that, like Professor Dibb, he didn't see the Government needing options for deployment out of the region, particularly for sending the army. The result has been an incredible demand on the dedication and professionalism of our special forces as they have again been thrown into the breach that our supposedly expert defence planners couldn't predict.

We now await to see if McNeill, Hyland and Pearlman will be ferociously chasing ex-Fairfax journalist Hugh White for answers. Perhaps this is not part of the script. Only those who serve in uniform can and do make mistakes, those who are arm-chair generals can do no wrong!

-----

Sunday, March 21, 2010

FAIRFAX CRUSADE AGAINST 1 COMMANDO REGIMENT

In 1998, a year before the break out of conflict in East Timor, Lieutenant General Frank Hickling, then Chief of the Australian Army, wisely undid some of the damage caused by defence experts in their running down of the Army's warfighting capability. It seems the Australian media have failed to scrutinise these "failed defence theorists" in light of recent controversies in Afghanistan. Hickling is pictured (second from left) with then Major General Peter Cosgrove, the 1999 East Timor mission commander. Photo source: ADF.

FAIRFAX'S "CURIOUS CRUSADE" AGAINST 1 COMMANDO REGIMENT
By Sasha Uzunov

Fairfax newspaper reporters Jonathon Pearlman and Tom Hyland are ferociously targeting the Australian Army’s 1 Commando Regiment over an alleged botched raid which resulted in the killing of children in Afghanistan last February. Soldiers from that unit, largely reservist, could possibly face legal proceedings.

But there are three important issues being missed here in the Fairfax’s crusade: due process of law, the presumption of innocence and who shapes Australia’s defence policy.

Here’s a recap. Pearlman wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald on 5 December 2009

www.smh.com.au/national/soldiers-may-be-first-to-face-charges-for-combat-since-vietnam-20091204-kaxw.html?skin=text-only

A NIGHT-TIME raid in which five Afghan children were killed has cast a cloud over Australia's elite forces and could result in combat-related charges against Australian soldiers for the first time since the Vietnam War.

TEAM UZUNOV on 7 December 2009 reported the other side of the story in www.scoop.nz.co

The Australian Army’s elite reservist unit, 1 Commando Regiment, is being made a scapegoat over allegations of misconduct in Afghanistan, a former unit member has told TEAM UZUNOV.

The experienced ex-Commando said that he was deeply concerned over claims that poorly trained and led members had breached rules of engagement during a raid on house in Afghanistan which resulted in the deaths of 5 local children after grenades had been thrown last February.

“My concern is the unit has been left out to dry by the Defence Department even before judgement has been passed. Let due process of law take place,” he said. “If people were innocent then that should be shouted from the rooftops but if people were guilty then throw the book at them.”

“Whatever the outcome of the investigation, the responsibility is with the government of the day as well Defence Department bureaucrats. It is they who send troops to war.”
-------------------------
Tom Hyland, the “defence expert” for The Sunday Age in "Deadly Afghan raids expose leadership failings" on 21 March 2010 wrote:

link:
www.theage.com.au/world/deadly-afghan-raids-expose-leadership-failings-20100320-qn9t.html

“Now, 12 months on, members of the unit await a decision on whether they will face criminal charges over the deaths of Amrullah and the children, killed on February 12, 2009.”
-----------------------
Tom Hyland quote:, Sunday Age, 21 March, 2010

" Along the way, it has exposed a rivalry almost as old as the army itself, between full-time troops and part-time reservists - chocos, some regulars call them, chocolate soldiers who can't take the heat."
------------------------
TEAM UZUNOV quote, 7 December 2009,

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0912/S00060.htm

Traditionally a fierce rivalry has existed between the Australian Regular Army (ARA) and the Army Reserve (Ares). Reservists are known as “chocolate soldiers” or “chockos” for allegedly not being able to withstand combat and melt under pressure.

Some Regular soldiers and officers see the reservists as allegedly incompetent or as “weekend warriors.” Some reservists regard their full time colleagues as “lifers” unable to think outside the box.
------------------
Tom Hyland, Sunday Age, 21 March 2010

"The regiment's experiences have triggered an intense debate within army ranks - about Special Forces tactics, and wider questions about a political and military preference for sending Special Forces, rather than large infantry units, to conflicts like Afghanistan."
-----------------
2005 UZUNOV STORY ON THE OVER USE OF THE SAS (extract):

http://teamuzunovmedia.blogspot.com/2009/01/minister-on-afghan-fact-finding-trip.html
The Herald Sun newspaper
A grand political warrior

by Sasha Uzunov21 January 2005

...Some have criticised General (Peter) Cosgrove on his over reliance on the SAS to do the fighting in East Timor that would normally have been taken up by the regular infantry. But I think this criticism is unjustified.

Criticism should be aimed at the government of the day (Howard 1996-2007) and those at home squeamish about seeing a 19 year old lad away from home for the first time fighting a war. Better to send the SAS, whose identity cannot be revealed...

TEAM UZUNOV – 9 September 2008

http://teamuzunovmedia.blogspot.com/2008/09/failed-nelson-howard-doctrine-on.html

NELSON-HOWARD MILITARY DOCTRINE: contradiction?

To top that off, a legacy of the Nelson-Howard military doctrine has the Special Forces doing most of the fighting (in Afghanistan), because of the fear of casualties to our regular infantry units. The long term effect could be burn out of our Special Forces. But the irony is if we withdraw our SF units and do not replace them with infantry units, then the pressure on Taliban is eased. It is one contradictory military doctrine, to say the least.

Both Pearlman and Hyland are quite correct to scrutinise the above story and we would encourage them to do so in an even handed manner. We would encourage them to examine overall defence policy and who shapes it.

Here is a key point that has been missed: why is it Australian Defence Policy to use Special Forces in an infantry role in Afghanistan, as well as throwing Army reservists in the deep end? Who caused this dramatic shift in defence thinking?

Hyland has gone on the record as calling anyone, other than fellow Fairfax journalists, who scrutinises defence experts or defence policy engaged in a “curious crusade.” See link: www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=9078&page=0

What Pearlman and Hyland will not touch upon is the change came about in Defence policy when two key “experts” Professor Paul Dibb and ex-Fairfax journalist turned government advisor Hugh White decided to cut back the number of full time infantry soldiers with the consequences of using reservists in combat roles.

Here’s a blast from the past:

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=8179
Generals and Diggers saved the day in Timor – 20 November 2008

Influential Defence expert and former Fairfax journalist, Hugh White, has revealed that Australia’s involvement in East Timor succeeded because of the Indonesian military’s (TNI) reluctance to fight a full scale war; this is partly true.

"Interfet succeeded as well as it did largely because Habibie and the TNI allowed it to succeed," White said.

Interfet was the name of the 1999 Australian led mission to restore order after East Timor declared its independence from 24 years of harsh Indonesian occupation. BJ Habibie was the then President of Indonesia who permitted East Timor to hold a UN supervised referendum.

White, who was the deputy secretary (strategy and intelligence) in the Defence Department, and the mastermind behind the Interfet mission, fails to mention four big factors behind the success.

They are: the brilliant leadership of two Australian Army generals, Frank Hickling and Interfet Commander Peter Cosgrove, the calibre of the Special Forces, the SASR, and the ordinary digger when confronted by the pro-Indonesian militia groups.

There was a secret war in East Timor fought by Indonesian Special Forces: Kopassus. The objective was to inflict as many casualties on Australians and New Zealanders in the hope that their respective governments would withdraw.

The Howard government at the time deliberately used the Army’s elite Special Forces unit, SASR (Special Air Service Regiment), to do most of the fighting in East Timor: fighting which should have been performed by the infantry.

The political logic was that the public and media would accept SASR casualties rather than a 19-year-old infantryman, fresh out of home or from a small country town.

But political logic does not necessarily make good military sense and vice-versa. In East Timor the pro-Indonesian militia tried to inflict as many casualties as possible on our infantry units, including battalions made up of many reserve/part time soldiers, in the hope that Australia would withdraw.

White is quiet on the issue of throwing reservists into the deep end after the regular army had been gutted; it was only the quality of the ordinary Australian soldier which stopped a disaster from happening.

It was General Frank Hickling’s foresight in 1998 as the Chief of Army that should be acknowledged. He issued his famous “back to basics” order that all Australian soldiers, regular and reserve, must sharpen their war fighting skills. He was concerned at the rundown of the Army.

Ironically, it was White and another defence expert, Paul Dibb, who were the prime movers in cutting back Army numbers in the late 1980s. Neither have ever served in uniform.


Here’s more on Dibb and White

http://teamuzunovmedia.blogspot.com/2008/09/rudd-real-mccoy-on-defence.html

September 23, 2008 - RUDD THE REAL McCOY ON DEFENCE?

Whatever PM Rudd’s true motivation is, you have hand it to him he is a very clever strategic/foreign affairs operator that many pundits have not given him the credit. Let me explain by drawing a comparison with Bob Hawke, another ALP Prime Minister (1983-91), also with messianic tendencies.

Hawke was known as the great conciliator whose claim to fame was his ability to bring opposing groups to the negotiating tables and hammer out a deal. During his Prime Ministership he brought in British academic Professor Paul Dibb and ex-Fairfax journalist Hugh White. Their brief was to transform the defence department with a number of reports, Defence White Papers and so on. Instead we ended up with a mess that took over a decade to bring under some form of control.

Mr Bruce Haigh, a former diplomat revealed during an interview with SBS TV’s Dateline program on 27-9-2000 that:

“Defence is the department that’s divided amongst itself, as far as I can gather, and there are certain people inside Defence who’ve taken a certain line for a long period of time - the Paul Dibb line, if you like, which is high-tech, US-alliance - and you’ve got others who are saying, "No. We’ve got the situation to the north- we need to have more people in uniform, we need to have them trained, we need to have night-vision equipment provided for them. “… the Australian Army can see what needs to be done, but many of the civilian Defence personnel, who’ve built their careers on playing up to this particular line, are arguing the other case, and feeling increasingly isolated, because they are not facing reality. That’s the problem.”

Respected Brigadier Jim Wallace, former Special Forces Commander, wrote in 2003:

“Unfortunately, Australian defence policy has been mainly wrong for the whole of this period. Even after we committed troops to East Timor, Professor Paul Dibb, the policy's chief architect, was standing in front of parliamentary committees vowing that Australia would not be conducting what he called "expeditionary" operations out of the region. This was despite a series of major UN deployments over many years to places as far afield as Rwanda and Somalia. Afghanistan and Iraq have hopefully now discredited this logic.

“At the same time, Dr Hugh White was arguing in initial drafts for the 2000 white paper to reduce the size of our army to about 19,000, on the basis that, like Professor Dibb, he didn't see the Government needing options for deployment out of the region, particularly for sending the army. The result has been an incredible demand on the dedication and professionalism of our special forces as they have again been thrown into the breach that our supposedly expert defence planners couldn't predict.”

Professor Dibb’s response was to make the snide remark on the ABC TV Lateline program on July 11, 2002 that Wallace was a “retired brigadier.”

The moral of the story is if your a big name Fairfax journalist you have a "Special Media Licence" to scrutinise or a 'Media Sheriff's Badge" which no one else seems to be entitled to.

Monday, March 01, 2010

ASIO's poor record

ASIO’S POOR RECORD
By Sasha Uzunov

The alleged use of Australian passports by Mossad--Israeli intelligence—agents in a recent Middle East assassination suggest an impotent Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), which is responsible for our domestic safety. But ASIO has a poor record in tracking down the bad guys.


In 2006 The Australian reporter Cameron Stewart revealed that Chinese communist spies were running rampant in Canberra so much so that ASIO increased it recruitment of agents. www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/spy-drive-to-tackle-chinese/story-e6frg6nf-1111112747905


Columnist John Birmingham has taken the mickey out of ASIO’s slick new job ads in search of nosey, latte-sipping spies. www.theage.com.au/opinion/blogs/blunt-instrument/the-man-with-the-golden--cufflinks-and-matching-tie-pin/20100224-p39q.html


It is both tragic and comical but ASIO has a poor record in catching the bad guys. The 1970s infiltration of Australia by then Yugoslav communist spies is a classic case.

Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic communist federation founded in 1945, modeled on the Soviet Union, and fell apart in 1991 into various independent nation states.

Yugoslav intelligence (UDBa) later known as SDB, together with Yugoslav military counter-intelligence (KOS) were largely pre-occupied with silencing dissident Croats, Macedonians, Serbs and Albanians living in Western Europe, North America and Australia, who were agitating for independence from Yugoslavia.

UDBa was so ruthless and efficient it at one time rivaled the old Soviet KGB and Mossad in liquidating opponents. In Munich, West Germany, a whole section of a cemetery was set-aside for Croats assassinated by UDBa.

Communist strongman Marshal Josip Broz Tito ruled Yugoslavia until his death in 1980 and during the height of the Cold War managed a great balancing act between East and West. He was seen as an indirect ally of the West after his infamous split with Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1949.

A number of Australian left-wing politicians, including Victorian State MP Joan Coxsedge, began to allege that ASIO was turning a blind eye to extremist Croatian elements, who were secretly training on Australian soil to undertake terrorist attacks on Yugoslav territory or upon Yugoslav diplomatic missions in Australia.

In this atmosphere of terrorism mania during the 1970s Australia’s Croat community were looked upon as the bad guy.

No doubt this was not helped by the fact that a sizeable number of Croats during World War II had collaborated with the Nazis. However, a large number had also fought against the Nazis as Partizans, including Franjo Tudjman later to become President of independent Croatia in 1991. But UDBa began to target the émigré Macedonian community in Australia, which had no history of large-scale Nazi collaboration, in fact the opposite.

Then there is Federal Attorney General Lionel Murphy’s infamous ASIO raid on 16 March 1973.
So much has been written about Murphy’s raid on ASIO. The controversial politician used the pretext that he was being kept in the dark by ASIO about alleged émigré Croatian terrorism on Australian soil aimed against the Yugoslav government. ALP Prime Minister Gough Whitlam said the Murphy raid was a mistake which hurt his government.

On 27 June 2007, I applied under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the media briefing notes of George Negus, Murphy’s Press Secretary and later celebrity war reporter, hoping if they could throw more light on the raid. But I ended hitting a bureaucratic brick wall.

We now know that the alleged Croatian terrorism on Australian soil was the work of UDBa. In 1991 legendary ABC TV investigative reporter Chris Masters dropped a bombshell on the Four Corners program.

Masters filed a story about The Croatian Six case. An agent provocateur set up members of Australia's Croatian community in 1979. Six Croats were imprisoned on false charges of wanting to plant bombs in Sydney. Masters tracked down the agent provocateur, Vitomir Visimovic, who was an ethnic Serb living in Bosnia but had passed himself off as a Croat.

In fact, ASIO, the Australian Federal Police (successor of the Commonwealth Police) and the infamous and corrupt New South Wales Police Special Branch were all aware that Visimovic was an UDBa operative but suppressed the information during the trial of the Croatian Six. Moreover, the alarming thing was the Australian authorities let the man depart the country. This was during Malcolm Fraser’s tenure as Prime Minister.

Masters’ older brother, fellow journalist and Rugby League Legend, Rugged Roy Masters wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on November 25, 2005:

“It is fashionable now to be a Croatian Australian, what with nearly half the Socceroos, including captain Mark Viduka, of Croatian background, plus Tony Santic, the owner of Makybe Diva, the triple Melbourne Cup-winning horse, and Andrew Bogut, the basketballer making a big impression in the United States.

“But when a young Scottish-born girl named Shirley, raised in north Queensland, started going out with Nikola Stedul, a Croatian-born cane cutter, in the early 1960s, her sister was horrified, asking, "Does he carry a knife?"

"Croatians were the bogymen then," Shirley, who married Stedul in 1965, said. "Like Muslims are today."

"The Steduls, who live in the Melbourne suburb of Altona, after being adrift in Europe for 30 years because the Australian government would not renew Stedul's passport, warn the new anti-terrorism laws will create more problems than they are likely to solve. They claim a possible outcome is a society divided into the privileged and the proscribed, creating fertile ground for home-grown terrorism.

"Paradoxically, the police and security agencies will be more efficient but the population will be less secure," Stedul, 68, says.

“The Steduls accuse ASIO of conspiring with the Yugoslav secret police to prevent them returning to Australia and co-operating with a paid assassin, Vinko Sindicic, who fired six bullets into Stedul as he leaned through a car window outside their Edinburgh [UK] home on October 20, 1988.

“Two bullets entered his mouth and four were fired into his body, one nicking his spinal cord, causing a slight limp.

“Sindicic was arrested at Heathrow Airport after a neighbour had recorded the registration number of the hire car from which he had shot Stedul.

“The assassination attempt and the resulting trial, where Sindicic was sentenced to 32 years' jail, were given widespread publicity, and a film was produced for Scottish television. At the trial it was revealed that Sindicic had been in Australia in 1978, working with another Yugoslav agent on a plan to link Croatian political activists with terrorism.”

Television reporter Sarah Ferguson, the wife of ABC TV Lateline host Tony Jones, rehashed some of the discredited claims of Croatian terrorism on the now defunct Channel Nine program Sunday:

“The post-war migration boom brought not only cultural diversity, it brought ethnic divisions and old-country politics and foreign agents. It also spawned the first manifestations of domestic terrorism, a threat ASIO failed to deal with because the offenders were anti-communist Croatian nationalists.”

(The Spying Game, 2 April 2006, Sunday program)

Ferguson did not interview Chris Masters about his 1991 expose nor did she speak to anyone from the Croatian community.

Beacause my parents were Macedonian migrants to Australia, I naturally developed an interest in UDBa’s activities. I began to investigate the infiltration of the local Macedonian community by UDBa. My quest took me to Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia in 1993, which broke away from Yugoslavia together with Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1991. I spoke to Aleksander Dinevski, a former high-ranking official within the Interior Ministry, responsible for both the Police and Security Services.

Dinevski revealed he had read a number of files that confirmed UDBa had monitored and infiltrated Australia’s Macedonian community.

On 6 January 2006 I received a curious email out of the blue from Dr John Schindler, Associate Professor of Strategy and Policy, United States. Naval War College:

“I encountered your recent article discussing UDBa terrorism and was intrigued. I'm doing research into the topic of Yugoslav state security (UDBa, later SDB) anti-émigré operations during the Cold War, including assassinations.

“I've found some information you cite, including the ASIO scandals of the 1970s, but as an American I must confess some of the cases you cite (eg Croatian Six) were new to me. Have you published anything else on this topic? Any thoughts on where I ought to be looking for more info on UDBa operations in Australia?”

I explained to Dr Schindler that the Australian authorities, in particular ASIO, had turned a blind eye to UDBa operations on Australian soil or had tried to hush things up.

In 1974 Dr Blagoja Sambevski a Macedonian dissident living in West Germany was assassinated by having his skull smashed in ala Trotsky style by an UDBa hit man in a Munich train station. In 1981the hit man entered Australia on an unknown task but was quietly told to leave by immigration officials.

Mr David Perrin, a Liberal Victorian State MP for Bulleen, in 1990 accused in parliament the Melbourne-based and tax-payer funded Australian Yugoslav Welfare Society (AYWS) of being a front for Yugoslav intelligence.

Professor Nikola Zezov, an academic at Saints Kiril and Metodi (Cyril and Methodius) University in Skopje, has bravely explored Macedonia’s controversial communist past within Yugoslavia.

He is co-author of the 2005 ground-breaking book “The repressed and repression in contemporary Macedonian history” (Represijata I represiranite vo sovremena Makedonska istorija). He was given access to 14,000 intelligence files. He concluded that one in five Macedonians living in communist Yugoslavia (1945-91) were paid informers for UDBa. This is an alarming figure on par with East German communist intelligence, the Stasi, and its hold on the population.

In March 1993, Stevce Pavlovski, Macedonia’s Public Prosecutor told me in an interview he would not open an investigation into communist crimes because he would end up having to imprison fifty per cent of Macedonia’s old communists.

It is surprising that no Australian big name investigative reporter or scholar has ever bothered to access the old UDBa files held in the newly independent states of Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro (Crna Gora), and Kosovo. They must contain a goldmine of information on Australian politicians and journalists!

(end)