CANBERRA, Australia, May 20 (UPI) -- Australia's espionage chief has agreed with Muslim leaders that tough new laws seen to single out Muslims.
However, Dennis Richardson, head of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization, told the Joint Parliamentary Committee that he made no apology for it, the Herald Sun newspaper reported Friday.
Richardson said in testimony Thursday that the laws were aimed at Islamic extremists who would seek to harm Australia or Australians, the paper said.
"The biggest security challenge we face at the moment (is) in respect of people who hide within Islam and who seek to justify what they do in the name of Islam," he said. "That being the case, it is inevitable that most of our targets today will be people who claim to be Muslims, and therefore might reside in Australian Muslim communities."
Richardson agreed with the suggestion there was a perception the anti-terrorism laws singled out Muslims. "I think that would be probably an accurate statement," he said. "Indeed, I think, that there should be such a perception is understandable."
Richardson leaves ASIO next month to become Australia's ambassador in Washington after eight years at the top of the nation's domestic spy agency.