2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Australia
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||5 August 2010|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Australia, 5 August 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c63b65826.html [accessed 30 May 2015]|
Australia continued to play a leadership role in the fight against international terrorism through multilateral and bilateral fora, including the annual Trilateral Security Dialogue with Japan and the United States, and the Lombok Treaty with Indonesia that enhanced bilateral counterterrorism cooperation.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) assessed that terrorism remained a serious and immediate threat to Australia; that extremist organizations in the Middle East, South Asia, and East Africa were the primary sources of inspiration and capabilities for extremists in Australia; and that the number of Islamist extremists willing to use violence in the country was very small and did not change substantially between July 2008 and June 2009. The most serious terrorism case was the arrest of five men, some with alleged links to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab, for allegedly planning a suicide attack on an Australian military base. The Australian National Counterterrorism Committee (NCTC) alert level remained at medium.
On August 12, the government announced proposed reforms to counterterrorism legislation, including expanding the definition of a "terrorist act" in the Criminal Code to include psychological, as well as physical harm; extending the expiration period of regulations proscribing a terrorist organization from two to three years; extending parliamentary oversight of the Australian Federal Police (AFP); and providing further limits on the period a suspect can be held without charge.
The government directed intelligence agencies – including the Australian Transaction and Reports Analysis Centre, which monitors financial transactions – to increase monitoring of small transactions sent abroad.
Eighteen groups were included on Australia's Listing of Terrorist Organizations. In 2009, 10 groups were re-listed, including the Kurdistan Workers Party, Lashkar e-Tayyiba, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. On August 21, al-Shabaab was listed as a terrorist organization.
Several other terrorism-related arrests or convictions occurred in 2009:
In February, seven men from Melbourne were sentenced to jail terms, ranging from four and a half to 15 years, for their involvement in planning terrorist activities. They were arrested in November 2005, during concerted actions on suspected terrorist groups in Melbourne and Sydney. An eighth, who trained in Afghanistan, was sentenced to five years in September.
In October, five Sydney men, arrested as part of a series of raids in 2005, were found guilty of plotting terrorist attacks. Sentencing hearings began in December 2009. Soon after, it was revealed that four other men involved in the plot had pled guilty and had been sentenced to jail terms. Two of them were eventually freed in exchange for cooperation with authorities.
In September, a Lebanese-born Sydney man, Bilal Khazal, was sentenced to 12 years in jail for posting a terrorism handbook titled "Provisions on the Rules of Jihad" on the Internet. In December 2003, Khazal and his brother were sentenced in absentia by a Lebanese military tribunal for financing an Islamist extremist group, which bombed U.S. businesses.
Australia assisted Indonesia in the investigation of the July hotel bombings in Jakarta.
Australian multilateral engagement continued in forums such as the United Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), ASEAN Regional Forum, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, Pacific Island Forum, and G8 Counterterrorism Action Group, as well as in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Australia has counterterrorism memoranda of understanding with Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Brunei, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Bangladesh. Australia continued to provide legal drafting assistance to regional states seeking to adopt international conventions and protocols against terrorism, and to bring their law codes into conformity with these conventions. Australia continued to lead efforts within the Civil International Civil Aviation Organization to update two counterterrorism conventions on civil aviation.
In October, Australia participated in the Fifth Regional Interfaith Dialogue in Perth, Australia, sponsored by Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. It aimed to promote peace and understanding through interfaith links. Within Australia, the government funded projects encouraging tolerance of religious diversity, particularly focusing on strengthening goodwill between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Australia and the United States exchanged information using APEC's Regional Movement Alert System.
The Australian Defense Force boosted its contribution in Afghanistan to approximately 1,550 personnel.