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CSG intelligence failure: not the first, tells former insider

July 5, 2009 – 6:10 pm26 Comments


The following is a guest post by a former member of the CSG who has previously commented on this blog under the nom de plum “Former CSG Insider.”  Their authenticity as former member of the CSG has been verified by the Sensible Jew editors.

Please note that this is a guest post and does not necessarily represent the views of Frochel or the SJ editorial committee.

Last week, a guest post by the now well-known photographer Jono David elicited a comment by a reader of this website concerning the alleged ‘blacklisting’ of a member of the Melbourne Jewish community.   The comment read as follows:

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine – let’s call him Josh – agreed to take a good friend of his from uni – let’s call her Aliya – on a tour of the Jewish sites of Melbourne. Aliya and Josh had been in the same study group for some time and had shared many interesting debates and discussions on religion, culture, society, etc. Aliya happened to be a religious Muslim who wore a hijab. Josh, a non-observant Jew.

So one Saturday morning Josh picked up Aliya from Balaclava station and they drove down Carlisle St, discussing Jewish customs such as kashrut, dress, prayer, Shabbat, etc. Josh drove Aliya past some of the major synagogues in Caulfield to further familiarise her with Jewish traditions. For example, he pointed out the external architectural features that are typical of synagogues, and explained the various shuls’ ideological and religious differences.

As they were passing one particular shul, Josh thought he noticed one of the CSG guards – an acquaintance of one of his siblings, who he knew by name – observing him and Aliya in the car closely, but a second later they were well past the building and he forgot about it.

Josh’s sibling later informed him that he (Josh) had been ‘listed’ on some sort of blacklist of people of ‘note’ to the CSG, simply because he had driven past the shul with an obviously Muslim passenger in the car with him. (His sibling had heard this directly from a member of the CSG.)

Josh thought his sibling was joking – he had gone to a Jewish school, been involved with various youth groups and communal organisations. He was known and respected by many people in the Jewish community. Why would anyone assume he was doing anything suspicious simply because he had a Muslim passenger in the car, particularly when he and the CSG guard on duty knew each other?

Without being aware of all of the details, I was aware of this incident.  The reader who wrote up this anecdote, named the Jewish person with the pseudonym of Josh, implying that this person was male.  This person was in fact female.  I am not sure if the reader was misinformed of the details, or if they deliberately wrote it up as such in order to further protect the identity of the allegedly blacklisted individual.  The reason I draw attention to the gender of the person is that a religious (hijab wearing) Muslim woman riding in the car alone with a young Jewish man is a more unlikely (and thus more suspicious) sight than a religious Muslim woman riding in the car alone with a young Jewish woman.

Nevertheless, the fact that the same hijab-wearing woman (in an area of Melbourne where the hijab is not a common sight) was seen in a car cruising by a number of synagogues should rightfully raise a moderate amount of suspicion amongst the CSG officers on duty, who would have been in communication via radio.

My criticism of the way the CSG handled this incident is not that suspicion was aroused, but rather the way this suspicion was handled.  I must confess that I do not know what this so called ‘black-listing’ involved.  What I do know about the incident is that the young Jewish woman in question was never actually approached by any CSG personnel for a debriefing.

From what I know about the background of the Jewish woman concerned, we can rule out that she would be knowingly in cahoots with some nefarious terrorist organisation.  If there was any reason for the CSG to be concerned, it would be that the woman in question was unwittingly recruited (befriended) to aid such an organisation.  I’m certainly not saying that this was likely the case (most likely both the Jewish and Muslim woman were totally innocent in their intention), only that it would be a legitimate concern for the CSG, which they should have followed up on.

Someone from the CSG should have got in contact with the Jewish woman to ascertain the background facts and assess the risk of the situation.  However, this was not done.  Rather, the woman was apparently derided behind her back, and any investigation that took place, if any, did not involve interviewing the Jewish woman, who would obviously have been the best source of information.

Like the Jono David case, this is another example which highlights the dysfunctional nature of CSG intelligence gathering and decision making.

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