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The so-called “bumbling Jihadi” Mark Taylor, who once left his Twitter location on, identifying a secret Islamic State location in Syria, is now deemed dangerous enough that New Zealand is changing its terror laws.
The new ‘Mark Taylor law’ would mean returning foreign fighters or anyone engaged in terrorism overseas who comes home and poses a risk could be slapped with “control orders” and conditions.
The conditions include:
restricted internet access
stopping association with some people
meeting with police twice a week
rehab or reintegration
Justice Minister Andrew Little, who announced the new law on Wednesday, said it’s “hard to know” how many people it will affect.
He said the Government knows of three or four other New Zealanders in Syria, but it’s unknown whether those people are dead or alive.
There’s added impetus because of the rapidly changing situation in northern Syria where Taylor is being held in a Kurdish prison
Kurdish forces say they’re struggling to contain 11,000 Islamic State detainees like Taylor.
One Islamic State prison was found deserted and hundreds of Islamic State family members and supporters have escaped.
“We got the balance absolutely right with this – new challenges and returning foreign fighters is a new challenge,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
But Labour’s closest allies the Greens are vowing to stop the Bill.
“It’s dog-whistling to that old war on terror language that has no place in New Zealand,” Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said.
“Especially in a post-Christchurch world in New Zealand it has no place here, we know that it will rile up fear and anxiety about something that isn’t a problem.”
She said it “has the potential” to be racist.
New Zealand First is backing Labour, and so is National – with certain conditions including having the length of the control orders extended beyond six years, and the age limit reduced from 18 to 14 years old.
“Regrettably, children and young people have been radicalised,” National leader Simon Bridges said.
But the Justice Minister said it “looks like dumb politicking on the part of National”.
Regardless of National or the Greens, the ‘Mark Taylor Law’ will pass.
Labour says the current terrorism laws don’t go far enough and that a prosecution might not be possible because there’s insufficient evidence from overseas conflict zones.
The same could be said for getting sufficient evidence to determine if someone is guilty or poses a risk.
The Government’s risk assessment says the likelihood of innocent people getting caught is low – the Police Commissioner and a High Court judge would make the call.
But it does outline other potential risks like exacerbating a person’s extremist views, the orders expiring while the person is still considered violent, and there’s also a risk some communities may feel unfairly targeted.
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