Earlier today, Justice Minister Ellison announced that Khaleed Daoed, one of the alleged organisers of the fatal SIEVX voyage, had been extradited to Australia from Sweden this morning (see also this doorstop interview).
On 24 April this year, Abu Quassey, the alleged head of the people smuggling syndicate that organised the SIEVX voyage, was deported to Egypt from Indonesia without the knowledge of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) or Justice Minister. (see: L&C 26 May 2003, p. 118, L&C 27 May 2003, p.326)
This must have been a low point for Commissioner Keelty and Minister
Ellison who for five months had been under intense public
pressure to ensure that Quassey was held accountable
for his part in the deaths of the 353 asylum seekers who drowned in
Australia's border protection zone when SIEVX foundered on 19 October
2001. The level of public scrutiny had been such that a Senate motion
had been passed in December 2002 calling for 'the Australian and Indonesian
Governments to undertake all actions necessary'... to ensure that
Quassey was 'immediately brought to justice' on his release from an
Indonesian prison after serving a six month sentence for passport
related offences. Ellison was so
determined to be seen as actively seeking Quassey's extradition that
he virtually vowed in an article by Kirsten Lawson in the Canberra
Times in December to pursue the infamous smuggler to the ends of the
'We will chase him and there will be no relenting in that pursuit, no
matter where he goes or how long he lives... He is one of the No 1, if
not the No 1, fugitives that Australia is chasing.'
One can only guess how humiliating it must have been for Ellison
and Keelty when they discovered that Quassey had been put on a plane
to Egypt without Indonesian authorities informing Australia of his
impending departure. Ellison and Keelty had been tasked by the Senate
to ensure that everything that could possibly be done to bring Abu
Quassey to Australia to face charges in relation to SIEVX was done and
instead the smuggler flew the coop without their knowledge!
With Senate Estimates less than a month away Keelty and Ellison were
undoubtedly aware that they would be called on by the Senators to
explain how Quassey had slipped their net.
Enter Khaleed Daoed...
A NEW QUEST BEGINS
It appears from an examination of the public record that
Australian authorities had little if any interest in Khaleed Daoed
until after Abu Quassey had been deported to Egypt.
Daoed was arrested by Indonesian authorities on 11 January 2002, and released
soon after. At the time of his arrest an AAP article described him as
a 'low-level player... in Jakarta's people smuggling network' (see also this article).
According to Ghassan Nakhoul, Daoed was released 'on the
strength of a letter the police had received from the UNHCR in
Jakarta' (see Nakhoul p.12.)
Daoed had been granted refugee status by the UNHCR in Indonesia prior
to the sinking of SIEVX. According to sources in Sweden, on his release from prison in Indonesia, Daoed
was resettled in Sweden in March 2002 where he lived in
Stockholm for eleven months. He moved to Sandviken in February 2003.
Given this background, it is curious that the AFP claimed not to know
of Khaleed Daoed (or indeed any of Quassey's alleged syndicate) in August
2002 when Marian Wilkinson put a series of questions to Federal
Agent Leigh Dixon concerning SIEVX and Abu Quassey's people smuggling
Wilkinson asked Dixon:
'We understand two members of the Mandanean community were working
as operates [sic] for Abu Quassey in gathering passengers for the SIEV
'The AFP has no knowledge of who worked with/for Abu Quassey...'
This is a very telling statement for it suggests that the AFP
investigation into SIEVX up until that time had been cursory to say
It was not until Ghassan Nakhoul's Walkley award winning radio program
on the SIEVX tragedy, 'The Five Mysteries of SIEVX', was broadcast on SBS Arabic radio in late August
2002, that details of Khaleed Daoed's alleged connection to Quassey's
syndicate became well known in Australia.
Even if we suspend disbelief and assume that the first the AFP or
Justice Minister knew of Daoed was in late August 2002 after 'Five
Mysteries' went to air, why then did it take another nine months
before warrants were sworn for Daoed's arrest - by which time he had
been resettled in another country as a refugee?
Senator Jacinta Collins made this point in a question to Senator Ellison in
'[W]hat I am asking is, with regard to
[Daoed's] arrest in Indonesia in January 2002... what
has changed in relation to the prosecution of this man that he was
released in January 2002 or thereabouts but now we can succeed with a
provisional arrest warrant in relation to such crimes?'
And why is it that the AFP did not begin intensively interviewing
SIEVX survivors until then too?
It appears that very little was done by Australian authorities in
regard to compiling a brief of evidence concerning the SIEVX
disaster until May 2003 - a few weeks after Abu Quassey had been
deported from Indonesia to Egypt.
It appears that when it comes to SIEVX, the AFP only acts under public
The record speaks for itself:
19 October 2001 - The Indonesian fishing boat that would later become known as SIEVX sinks approximately 60 nautical miles south of the Sunda Strait, in the Australian border protection surveillance zone, with the loss of 353 lives.
3 June 2002 - 3 warrants sworn for Abu Quassey for people smuggling
offences (none for SIEVX).
11 July 2002 - Commissioner Keelty appears as a witness at the CMI
Committee and refuses to answer numerous questions related to SIEVX
because of the possible negative consequences to future legal
proceedings and investigations
31 July 2002 - Commissioner Keelty informs Senate that AFP have
interviewed a total of five survivors from the SIEVX tragedy to date.
We would later hear that these interviews were conducted in July 2002 (see Q113).
4 December 2002 - Democrats Leader Senator Andrew Bartlett asks
Senator Ellison what is being done to bring Abu Quassey to justice for
his part in the SIEVX tragedy?
6 December 2002 - 4th warrant sworn for Abu Quassey - signficantly, this is the first
related to SIEVX
11 December 2002 - Senate passes a motion calling on the governments
of Australia and Indonesia 'to undertake all actions necessary prior
to 1 January 2003 to ensure that Abu Quessai is immediately brought to
1 January 2003 - Quassey released from Jakarta's Cipinang prison and placed in Immigration Detention
9 January 2003 - Commissioner Keelty informs Senate that AFP have
conducted interviews with 6 survivors to date (see Q56b).
24 April 2003 - Abu Quassey deported from Indonesia to Egypt without
Australia's knowledge after spending four months in Immigration
16 May 2003 - First warrant issued for Khaleed Daoed re SIEVX
22 May 2003 - Khaleed Daoed arrested in Sweden
27 May 2003 - Keelty informs Senate that a total of 26 survivors have
now been interviewed. Ghassan Nakhoul
reveals in his SBS Arabic radio program that most of these interviews had taken place very recently - ie in the last few weeks.
3-6 June 2003 - AFP conducts interviews in Indonesia with 21 Mandaeans who
disembarked from SIEVX prior to its sinking and who have been in Indonesia since the sinking.
6 June 2003 - 2nd warrant issued for Daoed for Yambuk
Late July 2003 - AFP reveals to Senate that a total of 48 interviews
have been conducted with survivors and others connected to the SIEVX
voyage (see Q137).
With the extradition of Daoed to Australia it appears that there will be some kind of SIEVX trial here - though it is anyone's guess when this may actually occur. However, a people-smuggling trial can in no way be considered a substitute for a full powers independent judicial inquiry into the sinking of SIEVX and the People Smuggling Disruption Program in Indonesia.