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Zahra (6), Fatima (7) and Eman (9) - the daughters of Sondos Ismail and Ahmed Alzalimi -  three of the 146 children who lost their lives when the vessel that has become known as SIEVX foundered in international waters en route to Christmas Island on 19 October 2001.
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Did Australia Have a Man On The Inside
In The Organisation That Embarked SIEVX?

by Marg Hutton
19 November 2011

The trial and recent failed appeal of convicted people smuggler Hadi Ahmadi revealed a wealth of information about the Australian Federal Police (AFP) network of informers operating in Indonesia during the time of the sinking of SIEVX in October 2001.

Hadi Ahmadi was the first people smuggler to be extradited to Australia from Indonesia. Mr Ahmadi was extradited here in May 2009 before people smuggling had been outlawed in Indonesia. This fact alone raises a serious SIEVX related question - Why is it that Abu Quassey, the principal organiser of the fatal SIEVX voyage in which 353 asylum seekers lost their lives could not be extradited to Australia from Indonesia and yet Hadi Ahmadi could be? Abu Quassey instead was deported to Egypt from Indonesia in 2003 and tried in a court where no witnesses were called. Evidence was provided by Australia 'in five large blue folders' which were read and deliberated on by the judge - that is, not tested by cross examination.

Hadi Ahmadi and Abu Quassey appear to be significantly connected. In November 2001, just a few weeks after the SIEVX sinking Mr Ahmadi was arrested in Indonesia where it was alleged by Indonesian Deputy Head of Police Public Relations, Brigadier General Edward Aritonang that he was a member of Abu Quassey's people smuggling syndicate.

Also, both Hadi Ahmadi and Abu Quassey operated the Christmas Island people smuggling route and were both charged with organising the same vessel, the boat codenamed 'Yambuk' which arrived at Christmas Island on 4 August 2001, just ten weeks before the SIEVX disaster. It should be pointed out however that Mr Ahmadi was not convicted of any offence in relation to the 'Yambuk'.

The Christmas Island route was less popular than the Ashmore Reef route. During 2001, prior to the SIEVX sinking there were only 11 people smuggling boats that arrived at Christmas Island. So the two smugglers were part of a very small group.

During the trial of Hadi Ahmadi in Perth in 2010 it became clear that the people smuggling syndicate that Hadi Ahmadi was involved in had been penetrated by a double agent who allegedly acted as a people smuggler but who was in fact an AFP informant. This man, Waleed Sultani, gave evidence that he worked with Hadi Ahmadi in 2000 and 2001. Sultani, a former Iraqi soldier, approached Australian officials in August 2000 and offered his services. From then on he 'regularly reported to the Australian embassy in Jakarta on people smuggling activities'. According to the Australian, 'he passed on information about the movement of boats, passengers and phone numbers of smugglers to an embassy official called Mr Lee.' Could this refer to Leigh Dixon, the chief liaison officer at the embassy during that period? In 2002 Sultani was assisted to come to Australia by the AFP on a 'justice visa' and had his accomodation paid for until 2005 by the agency. After giving evidence in the trial of another convicted people smuggler, Hasan Ayoub, who also operated the less popular Christmas Island route, he received $250,000 from Australian officials 'Australian citizenship and indemnity from prosecution'.

So we have evidence that Hadi Ahmadi and Abu Quassey were connected - they both operated the Christmas Island route; Indonesian police declared them to be part of the same syndicate and they were both charged with organising the 'Yambuk' voyage. And there is also evidence that the alleged double agent/AFP informant Waleed Sultani and Hadi Ahmadi were connected - they worked together in the people smuggling business in 2000-2001.

This begs the question - were Abu Quassey and Waleed Sultani connected?

In his informant capacity, did Waleed Sultani monitor Abu Quassey's activities? Was he involved in any way in the organisation of SIEVX? Did he sight the boat? Did Waleed Sultani report to the AFP officials in the Australian embassy about Abu Quassey and/or the organisation of SIEVX? If so, precisely what information was passed on and when? Did Australian authorities have more information about the departure of SIEVX than has been acknowledged to date?


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