The PM John Key has publicly announced what New Zealand’s immediate and short term role will be in the campaign against radical extremist group ISIS..

John Key has outlined NZ's response to the threat of Islamic State. Photo / AP, Herald file

Opinion:

by Peter Petterson

The prime minister John Key said on television and radio today that New Zealand’s response against ISIS/ISIL would be one of an intelligence role rather than combat.

He also claimed that up to 80 people have been linked to the radical Islamic group ISIS and 30–40 of these are on a watch list because they were potential foreign fighter recruits. I find this number rather surprisingly high.

These are people from NZ who have participated in extremist behaviour in various ways. Some are people who have travelled to the Middle East and had remained there. They could be fighting for ISIS. Others are people who attempted to travel there but had their passports revoked. Others were fundraising,radicalising others and themselves.

No New Zealand combat troops will be sent to Iraq, only military planners as in Afghanistan.

The SIS will be given powers to carry out video surveillance of property, similar to existing Police Search and Surveillance. Passports could be suspended for up to three years, or for up to 10 days in emergency situations.

A new criminal offence covering foreign fighters is being considered, as in Australia.

It is obvious that New Zealand’s role will will be one of intelligence rather than combat at this stage.

However the future use of the NZ SAS has not been discussed. Intelligence was a major role of the NZ SAS in Afghanistan. We would have to be rather naive if we didn’t believe they would have a role in the future. They need to be trained in desert conditions first, don’t you think?

Opposition political parties appear to support the government’s decision. There will be little support for any New Zealanders going to Iraq or Syria to fight for ISIS/ISIL.

I believe a majority of New Zealanders will support  the National Government’s decision in the short term, anyway. But i personally don’t believe the NZ SAS won’t be used in its proven intelligence capacity in the longer term.

Footnote:

Since I posted this, it has been strongly suggested that the SAS is already over in Iraq doing the intelligence work they are so very, very good at. Nobody will confirm this, will they? As they say,neither confirm nor deny.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11353573

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/521819/SAS-stops-Islamic-State-advance-with-two-bullets-as-British-Army-troops-return-Iraq

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11353573&ref=NZH_FBpage

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