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One man's terrorist...
November 21, 2005 5:39 PM   Subscribe

The Cult of Zaoui. Algerian Ahmed Zaoui arrived in New Zealand in December 2002, having been convicted in Belgium and France (in absentia) for terrorism-related offences, on a false passport requesting refugee status. He was imprisoned for two years (spending ten months in solitary confinement) as a result of the Security Intelligence Service issuing a security risk certificate, before the NZ Supreme Court granted him bail. He now lives in a Dominican Priory in Auckland under curfew, but manages (accompanied by his crusading young lawyer) to give public lectures, offer eulogies, publish a book of poetry, appear in a music video (wmv), sing onstage at the NZ Music Awards, inspire a fund-raising cookbook "Conversations over Couscous", and has become (depending on your viewpoint) a reluctant or carefully cultivated celebrity.
posted by szechuan (13 comments total)

 
Nice post about something I'd not heard a thing about (which is surprising considering the amount of TERRAH disinformation we're getting across the Tasman, and our Man Of Steel's complaints about Kiwis freeloading on the defence of the Universe as we know it.

Oh, Zaoui, sang with Dave Dobbyn? Poor guy.
posted by wilful at 5:51 PM on November 21, 2005


It was a heal-the-world kind of song, everyone was singing with dobbo.

"Another chorus? Bring on Helen, Hilary, Nic off Shortland Street... fade up audio on their mics..."
posted by holloway at 6:03 PM on November 21, 2005


Cultivated, definitely. He has a whole lot of followers and a lot of feel-good public appearances. I know too little about Zaoui to say much, but these links look very enlightening. Thanks, szechuan.
posted by tracicle at 6:14 PM on November 21, 2005


He should be either deported, or charged and tried, or set free. His current state, effectively being detained without charge, is a disgrace to our country.

Having said that, I'm sure he has cultivated positive PR as much as he can. Wouldn't you? (Not to mention he was a politician in Algeria, so no doubt has more skills in that area than the average bear).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:57 PM on November 21, 2005


This is great; I hadn't known anything about him.
[In future, please note .pdfs as well as .wmvs - thanks.]
posted by mediareport at 7:08 PM on November 21, 2005


PS: a masterful assemblage of Zaouiana, szechuan.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:56 PM on November 21, 2005


Definitely some fascinating stuff here. I too didn't know much about Zaoui. So another thanks to add to your collection.
posted by panoptican at 9:10 PM on November 21, 2005


I'm not getting a clear picture as to how well founded the charges of terrorism are. Is this something drummed up by the Algerian government to silence a critic, or is he one of those "I blow people up but am charming on TV" types, like that IRA guy who always gets a warm welcome in New York?
posted by languagehat at 5:41 AM on November 22, 2005


I'm not getting a clear picture as to how well founded the charges of terrorism are. Is this something drummed up by the Algerian government to silence a critic, or is he one of those "I blow people up but am charming on TV" types, like that IRA guy who always gets a warm welcome in New York?
posted by languagehat at 5:41 AM on November 22, 2005


I don't know what sort of a terrorist he was/is, but I do know that Algerian politics are very complex and brutal and there is blood on the hands of all sides. He may not be quite such a charmer as he appears in NZ media.
posted by wilful at 2:58 PM on November 22, 2005


I have no idea what sort of terrorist he may or may not be, but I'm guessing there must be enough to be concerned about for the SIS to issue its first ever risk certificate.

What I find weird is the cult of personality surrounding him. I attended a play where he was "guest of honour" and found myself staring at him thinking, "dude, if you are a terrorist, then the way everyone is fawning over you is super strange."
posted by szechuan at 3:48 PM on November 22, 2005


Alex van Wel did a pretty good one-hour doco on Zaoui last year. He dug pretty deep but couldn't find even the remotest suggestion that Zaoui has ever been connected with any form of terrorism. The security risk certificate came from the SIS accepting without question information from several European intelligence agencies, all of which, it turned out, was in turn accepted without question from fabricated reports in one Algerian newspaper. Whatever the man is or isn't, he has never been a threat of any kind to New Zealand. The cult of celebrity which has sprung up around him doesn't surprise me at all, because his case came as such a shock to many Kiwi lefties, who thought our country was above that sort of thing. Shattered preconceptions tend to make people take things a bit too seriously.
posted by Soulfather at 5:05 PM on November 22, 2005


I'm not getting a clear picture as to how well founded the charges of terrorism are.

You and about 4 million New Zealanders, brother. Part of the problem is that the SIS are claiming that their evidence is super-secret intelligence which can't be made public, and which they don't want to present in court. Which is another reason for my outrage - we have a man detained effectively on secret testimony from unexamined witnesses. As I said above, a disgrace. He may well be a bad bad man we don't want here, but who's to know? I certainly don't trust the SIS either to get things right or to have our collective best interests at heart.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:16 PM on November 22, 2005


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