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Sydney mosque imam denies having Al-Qaeda connection

September 1, 2011 - Sydney

A Sydney sheikh accused of having links with the Al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, has denied the claim.

Sydney's Belmore Mosque imam Sheikh Abdel Zoud said he would be meeting officials of the Australian Security Intelligence Operation soon on the matter.

Zoud said he would protest against his inclusion in a US State Department list leaked by WikiLeaks.

He said he has sought the advice of his lawyer and called the ASIO to arrange a meeting.

"I want them to explain to me what is happening. They [will say] nothing until they meet me", The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Zoud, as saying.

Australia's Attorney-General Robert McClelland had earlier described the WikiLeaks latest release as "incredibly irresponsible" and expressed fears that the website may have put security operations and people's safety at risk.

Zoud made his complaint on the same day when WikiLeaks servers were targeted in what appeared to be a concerted cyber assault, forcing the organisation's online portals to shut down for several hours.

WikiLeaks' latest cables also alleged that the US embassy in Canberra believed the December 2009 opposition frontbench reshuffle by Tony Abbott indicated a "rightward shift" in the Coalition.

The same cable also declared that the appointment of the Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce to the position of shadow finance minister could harm the Coalition's reputation.

The cables also touched the 2009 terrorism raids in Melbourne and Sydney, and one of them revealed that the US embassy's legal attache was briefed about them the day before they occurred.


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