The Daily Bork

May 03, 2005

Nevermind those murderers, look out for the asylum seekers.

The erstwhile leader of the New Zealand First Party, well known for media grandstanding prior to elections and getting out the blue-rinse brigade to secure his parliamentary seat, has managed to turn up something useful...

The Government tonight froze the offshore processing of "high-risk" visa applications after two former high-ranking Iraqi officials entered New Zealand on visitor visas issued at the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok.

Immigration Minister Paul Swain tonight confirmed Amer Mahdi Alkhashali is in New Zealand following claims by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters in Parliament today he is a former Iraq Minister for Agriculture and Agrarian Reform under the Saddam Hussein regime.

The second man, a former Iraqi ambassador to Cuba and Bangladesh, yesterday had his visitor's visa revoked following a search of records by the Immigration Service.

"I am extremely unhappy with this situation," Mr Swain told reporters.

"I was informed yesterday that a proper search was done on all people fitting the profile of this kind of person. Clearly this search was not completed."

Ah hah. "Search not completed", not "search stuffed up". Right.

A Thai immigration official at the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok, Twich Kanchananaga, was investigated in February 2003 following allegations he was running a cash-for-visa ring in which Cambodian nationals were charged up to $US4000 (NZ$7215) to ensure approval of their student visas.

Department of Labour deputy secretary Mary Anne Thompson said tonight the immigration office at the embassy, which employed about 40 staff, had been strengthened since the 2003 investigation.

"I don't believe this is an issue of kick-backs," she told reporters.

"What we're saying is we don't like the decision-making coming out of that branch."

We have had problems with kickbacks in this embassy before. Clearly this incident is not an issue of kickbacks because it just isn't. It is a problem with "decision-making". Right.

Mr Alkhashali - also known as Amer Mahdi Saleh Khashaly - arrived in New Zealand on a visitors visa and was visiting family, Mr Swain said.

He travelled to New Zealand on an Iraqi passport but also presented a United Nations passport to the Bangkok embassy. It is believed Mr Alkhashali is also a former delegate to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

"We have yet to confirm his status as a minister in Saddam Hussein's government but expect to be able to do that in due course.

"I have instructed the department to begin the process of revoking this man's visa."

The incomplete Immigration Service search failed to detect Mr Alkhashali because it was searching in categories and had focused on asylum-seekers first, he said.

We were looking for asylum seekers rather than members of a criminal government or possible terrorist kingpins. Our searches are so crap that they cannot do more than one category at once (do you know how long it takes to look someone up in the Iraqi phonebook?) Christ, the man had an Iraqi passport, an UN passport and has been a delegate to multiple UN organisations. How bloody hard is it to figure out who he is?

It was "possible" a complete search would turn up more inappropriate people in New Zealand.

Mr Swain said Mr Aklhashali was not a security risk to New Zealand.

And we are hoping like hell that we haven't let in any Islamofascist "insurgents" while trying to find asylum seekers.

Refugee Council president Munjid Umara said today Mr Alkhashali and his family were active members of Saddam's Baath party.

Mr Alkhashali, who would be in his 70s now, played a big role in the 1963 killings when the party came to power, Mr Umara told Newstalk ZB.

Mr Peters today accused the Government of "going after a wolf and producing a rabbit".

"The Government has no idea who is coming into the country and this case proves it."

Hmm, not a very nice man, even if he is old now.

It seems to be the easiest way for thugs to get into the country is to be straight up about who they are, so long as they don't claim asylum.


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