Knowledge of the asylum seeker vessel codenamed Yambuk and its alleged
organisers, Abu Quassey and Khaleed Daoed, seems to appear and
disappear from the record at the whim of Australian authorities.
While the boat was notably absent in evidence to the Senate Select
Committee On A Certain Maritime Incident (CMI) in 2002, it reappeared
last year in relation to the extradition to Australia of Quassey's alleged associate, Khaleed Daoed.
Missing in evidence to the CMI Committee
In June 2002 the Australian Federal Police (AFP) swore out three first
instance warrants for the arrest of SIEVX mastermind Abu Quassey, one
of which was for his role in allegedly organising the Yambuk, which
arrived at Christmas Island on 4 August 2001 just ten weeks prior to
the SIEVX voyage.
In July 2002, four weeks after the warrants for Quassey were issued,
the Defence Internal Review of Intelligence pertaining to SIEVX was
submitted to the CMI Committee. This review included a three page
document headed 'SIEV X Chronology' which supposedly documented all
information received by the Department of Immigration (DIMIA) and
other Australian authorities regarding Abu Quassey and the SIEVX
voyage (p1, p2, p3). Significantly, this chronology did not include
By omitting Yambuk from the picture, the false impression was given to
the Senate Committee that Quassey had been planning the SIEVX voyage
from as far back as July 2001. This helped to bolster the perception
that intelligence regarding asylum seeker voyages was imprecise and
sketchy and could not be relied upon by Australian authorities.
It was not only Defence who failed to inform the CMI Committee about
When witnesses from the Department of Immigration appeared at the CMI
Committee in July 2002, Acting Deputy Secretary, Ms Nellie Siegmund,
stated that DIMIA first heard about 'this particular
organiser with this particular boat' (meaning Quassey and SIEVX)
'back in July'. (CMI 2012 and quoted in CMI Report at para 8.30)
Senator Faulkner also asked Siegmund if she had noted any omissions in
the Defence Review of Intelligence. This was her opportunity to inform
the Committee that Quassey had sent Yambuk to Christmas Island in
August and so is unlikely to have been organising the SIEVX voyage in July:
Senator FAULKNER-Is there anything that is missing from that time
line? There are two issues about accuracy: what is there and whether
there is any material not there that should be.
Ms Siegmund-No, I have not found anything that is missing.
Given that I saw it this morning and went through it, I basically
compared it to our records of the DINs, the intelligence notices that
we produced at the time. I have not found anything that was
missing. [emphasis added]
The CMI Committee took this information at face value and repeated it
in their Report: 'The first reports on SIEV X can be traced to July
2001' (CMI Report para 8.27)
For the Committee this was further evidence of 'the varying
signals on SIEV X' that Australian agencies had been receiving for the
three months that Quassey had supposedly been organising the fatal
SIEVX voyage. (CMI Report para 8.29)
Admittedly this omission is not as significant as some others - for
example, the failure of DIMIA witnesses to alert the Committee to the
fact that Quassey had previously sent a boat to Christmas Island
in March 2001 that was the subject of an AMSA alert and which required
emergency rescue. But given that the sinking of SIEVX resulted in the
deaths of 353 people, any oversight in information provided to the CMI
Committee about this matter is hard to understand.
At best, the omission of the Yambuk in evidence is indicative of
extremely sloppy work and lack of attention to detail by two
government departments. At worst it is further evidence of deliberate
concealment of important information from the Committee.
Back in the picture with Khaleed Daoed
The Yambuk reappeared late last year with the extradition of Khaleed
Daoed from Sweden to Australia.
A warrant was issued for Daoed on 16 May 2003 in respect of his
alleged role as an organiser of the SIEVX voyage. Three weeks later a
further warrant was issued for his role in the Yambuk voyage.
It appears that the charges against Daoed for Yambuk were a
contigency plan in the event that the SIEVX charges should fail to be
proven. (I am not a lawyer, but it does seem puzzling that people-smuggling charges could be laid against Daoed concerning SIEVX when
manslaughter charges could not - especially when you consider that
SIEVX failed to arrive in Australia because it sank and that people
smuggling is not a crime in Indonesia where the fatal SIEVX voyage
It will be interesting to see if contradictions in the record such as
this will be utilised by Daoed's lawyers when his case eventually
comes to trial. Daoed's committal hearing is due to resume in
Brisbane on 5 April.
1. It was not until January 2003 - seven months after the CMI
Committee finished hearing evidence - that the AFP made this information public. (See AFP, QoN #55. For information on the arrival of the Yambuk see DIMIA Fact Sheet 74a, p.6)
2. This was not the only omission by the Defence Review. I have
written before of how the review denigrated, misrepresented and
concealed key evidence in order to reach the false conclusion that the
sinking position of SIEVX could not be determined (see 'SIEVX & the DFAT Cable: The Conspiracy of Silence', pp. 18-21).
3. According to a spokesperson from Senator Ellison's office, 'the
SIEVX warrant was issued on 16 May 2003, while the Yambuk warrant
was issued on 6 June 2003'. The Yambuk is also mentioned in an article by Helena Nyman published in the Swedish newspaper Arbetarbladet in October 2003, prior to Daoed's extradition. To my knowledge, Nyman's article is the only public reference (other than an earlier article published on this website) that Daoed is being charged in relation to the Yambuk.
4. For further information see this article.