A New Zealander with links to terrorist group al Qaeda and who once was arrested trying to enter an al Qaeda stronghold in Pakistan is back in New Zealand, but the Prime Minister does not believe he is a threat.
Mark Taylor’s name was among 23 Australians or Australia-based people of security interest in a Wikileaks cable, dated January 21, 2010. It was sent to embassies worldwide to alert them of the people who “either an historical or current association with Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, or are based in Yemen or the surrounding region and may come into contact with al-Aulaqi.” The cleric has ties to an offshoot of terrorist group al-Qaeda.
This afternoon John Key confirmed Mr Taylor was in New Zealand at the moment. “For reasons that you’ll appreciate, I can’t go into great detail about Mark Taylor. All I can say is that he’s known to us, he’s someone that has quite a number of restrictions on him for very good reasons. “I know him and his name very well.”
When asked if New Zealanders had anything to fear from him, Mr Key said: “I don’t believe so, no.” Mr Key, who is the minister responsible for the Security Intelligence Service, did not want to comment further. The cable says Mark John Taylor, 38, also went by the name T. al-Rahman.
The US Embassy in Canberra recommended his name be placed on a “selectee” list – rather than the no-fly list – “due to his demonstrated connections with al-Aulaqi”. “This recommendation is based also on his current location being Australia, where Australian (and possibly New Zealand) authorities can monitor his whereabouts and travel plans.”
In February 2009 Mr Taylor was arrested and detained by Pakistani security forces at a paramilitary checkpost on the outskirts of Tank town, about 280km southwest of Islamabad. He was reportedly trying to enter an al Qaeda and Taleban militant stronghold on the Afghan border and Pakistani intelligence officials suspected he had links with Islamist militants.
Mr Taylor was reported to have told the soldiers who detained him that he was going to South Waziristan to get married. He had a beard and was wearing a shalwar kamiz, the traditional tunic outfit worn by men. Tank’s District Coordination Officer Barkatullah said at the time that Mr Taylor had valid documents and was travelling in a passenger coach. He was stopped during a routine check at the post. Mr Taylor told police he had four wives, but all of them had died and now he planned to marry a tribal woman.
Kiwi with al Qaeda links ‘no threat’