10 Aug 2005

Fiji special branch keep eye on communities over Islamic terrorism training concerns

3:31 pm on 10 August 2005

Fiji's special branch police are monitoring their contacts in communities in the country over concerns the islands may become a haven for Islamist terrorists.

Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downer, is said to have asked police in the region to investigate Solomon Islanders who've converted to Islam, gone to religious schools in Fiji, and become radicalised.

Sources say Australian police have circulated a list of 40 named suspects.

The commissioner of Fiji police, Andrew Hughes, says they're keeping an eye on the situation.

"We haven't received anything formally, by way of a request to conduct an investigation in relation to this matter... the whole security situation, and the way Fiji fits into that is within the remit of our special branch, and they generally keep an eye on things, and have contacts throughout the various communities."

Staff at an Islamic school in Lautoka confirm they have two Solomon Islander students, but added there was no suggestion they were being radicalised.

Staff dismissed the argument that radical Muslims could train and evade attention, in an area some might see as a backwater.