By Sasha Uzunov
copyright 2009

Australian soldiers serving in Afghanistan have been warned as a security measure not leave personal mail, postcards or any other correspondence or emails unsecured or not properly disposed of after it was allegedly falling into the hands of the Taliban terrorists, and used in psychological warfare.

An American military source contacted TEAM UZUNOV to allege that an Australian female soldier from Western Australia had a letter inadvertently fall into the hands of the Taliban who then telephoned her parents back home threatening the soldier’s life.

Australia’s Defence Department Media unit, to its credit, has spent over a month investigating details but has denied the veracity of the allegation.

A Defence spokeswoman said:“The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has no record of the incident that is raised in your question.

“The ADF practices strict information security procedures that protect operational and personal information from falling into the hands of our adversaries.”

Mr Neil James, Executive Director of the Australia Defence Association, noted:“Perhaps the problem in this instance, if it occurred as described, resulted from improper disposal, that is a letter ended up at the tip instead of being shredded.

“The ADA is not aware of any Australian cases of families at home being targeted by the Taliban. However, in the era of the Internet, satellite phones, Taliban propaganda on blog sites being absorbed subjectively by so many, general misinformation on the war being so common, and sympathy for the Taliban among at least some in Australian society, it certainly seems possible.
As with Vietnam, the longer the war goes on the greater the risk that Australian extremists may resort to such harassment (or worse), either out of direct sympathy with and support for the Taliban, or as extreme and callous publicity seeking for their own extremist causes”.

“The harassment of families of personnel deployed during the Vietnam War certainly occurred. It was quite vicious in several cases and included vandalism of houses, constant telephone calls and personal confrontations involving foul-mouthed abuse and occasionally assault. The perpetrators were Australian extremists opposed to us being in Vietnam and some sabotage of military equipment and bases also occurred.”

Mr James said that during the Vietnam War (1962-72) the laws and legal loopholes of that era did not allow prosecution for actions, deliberately or recklessly taken, that aided the enemy the ADF were fighting on behalf of us all, even where some Australians disagreed.

Since the passage of the Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act, 2002, an Australian citizen anywhere in the world again commits treason if he or she (among other things: intentionally assists, by any means whatsoever, an enemy, at war with the Commonwealth; intentionally assists, by ‘any means whatsoever’, another country or organisation that is engaged in armed hostilities against the ADF; or forms an intention to do any of the above acts and manifests that intention by an overt act.

The Executive Director of the ADA added: “this is as it should be in any liberal democracy where our defence force is lawfully committed to UN-endorsed action by a democratically elected government on behalf of us all. Members of our defence force, quite rightly, cannot disobey lawful orders.

“We therefore owe a responsibility to the ADF not to let them down in any way, no matter how much some Australians might disagree with the Government’s decision to send them. Lawful and peaceful dissent is OK, aiding the enemy is not. All dissent and associated action should be directed at our Government not the diggers”