In a very blunt assessment of the security threat facing the country ASIO Director, General Mike Burgess, warns that a terrorist attack in Australia is likely in the next 12 months. Simultaneously with the country’s spy agency revelation concerning a probable extremist attack, the Australian federal police calls for the banning of extremist insignia and online propaganda.
Law enforcement and counter-terrorism agencies gave evidence to the parliament’s extremism inquiry on Thursday. In turn, this emphasized the need for new powers and an increased budget to tackle both religiously motivated and the growing threat of ideologically motivated extremism.
Ideologically Motivated Terrorism in Australia
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation director general, Mike Burgess, told the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security the threat of a terrorist attack in Australia remains “probable”.
“We anticipate there will be a terrorist attack in this country in the next 12 months and it could come from either ideology. For me it doesn’t really matter because they are both capable of conducting acts of violence and that’s where we focus,” Burgess said.
The warning is based on an assessment that lone wolf individuals and small terrorist groups have both the capability and intent to launch a terrorist attack in Australia.
While Sunni Islamist terrorism is still rated the greatest threat, there is a growth in nationalist and racist ideologically motivated extremism. Burgess confirms that ideologically motivated terrorism makes up 40% of ASIO’s counter-terrorism work and is a threat that won’t diminish any time soon.
The Australian federal police deputy commissioner, Ian McCartney, argues of possible gaps in the criminal law in relation to the spreading of terrorist materials helping to radicalize people online.
“Outside of legitimate research, and public interest reporting … there are no circumstances where individuals should be accessing or sharing instructional terrorist manuals, propaganda magazines, and graphically violent images, videos and other content produced by terrorists,” McCartney said.
A Global Trend?
In a speech to the Congress in the Aprli, US president Joe Biden pledged that his administration won’t ignore what intelligence agencies determined. Reportedly, the most lethal terrorist threat to US homeland security today is from white supremacist terrorism.
Earlier in April, the US director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, released a global threat assessment report. It states that Australia, Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom consider white racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, including Neo-Nazi groups, to be the fastest growing terrorist threat they face.