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Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Australia

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 18 August 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Australia, 18 August 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e5248382d.html [accessed 12 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Overview: On February 23, the Government of Australia released the Counterterrorism White Paper outlining Australia's counterterrorism strategy. The strategy has four key elements: Analysis, Protection, Response, and Resilience. Additional funding was announced for a counter-radicalization program. The National Terrorism Public Alert System level remained at medium, indicating that a terrorist attack could occur.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: In October 2009, five Sydney men, arrested as part of a series of raids in 2005, were found guilty of plotting terrorist attacks. On February 15, they were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 23 to 28 years. The Australian Attorney-General noted that the trial extended over nearly one year and involved approximately 300 witnesses, 3,000 exhibits, and 30 days of surveillance evidence.

In February, the government announced the creation of the Counterterrorism Control Center (composed of the Australia Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), Australian Secret Intelligence Service, the Australian Federal Police and Defense Signals Directorate) to coordinate counterterrorism activities; it was officially opened on October 21.

In March, parliament passed the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Bill 2010 that appoints an Independent Monitor to help ensure counterterrorism laws strike an appropriate balance between protecting the community and human rights.

Between July 2009 and June 2010, ASIO identified "several Australians" seeking contact with extremist religious figures overseas, and issued eight adverse security assessments against Australian passport holders, which "reflected an increase in the number of Australians identified as seeking to travel overseas for terrorism-related activities." ASIO reported that a number of Australians made contact with extremist figures in Yemen and "Australians resident in Yemen have also participated in terrorism-related activity." During this period, ASIO issued 14 adverse assessments against visa applicants on counterterrorism grounds.

In November, parliament passed the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill, which includes new powers for police to enter premises without a warrant in emergency circumstances; establishing a seven day limit on the amount of time a terrorism suspect can be held, without charges; expanding counterterrorism laws to apply to those who incite violence on the basis of race, religion, ethnic origin, and political opinion; extending the expiration period of regulations proscribing a terrorist organization from two to three years; amending the National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act 2004 so that national security and counterterrorism court proceedings may be expedited; and creating parliamentary oversight of the Australian Federal Police and Australian Crime Commission.

On December 23, three Melbourne men were found guilty of conspiring to plan a terrorist act at Sydney's Holsworthy Army Base in 2009. The Attorney-General said the prosecution was the result of a complex joint investigation involving state and federal police cooperation with the intelligence community.

Australia listed 19 groups as terrorist organizations. Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula was listed for the first time and al-Qa'ida, Jemaah Islamiya, al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb, Abu Sayyaf Group, al-Qa'ida in Iraq, and Jamiat ul-Ansar were re-listed in 2010.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority was investigating Hizballah's al-Manar television station's program content to determine its compliance with regulatory obligations relating to terrorist-related content, as well as racial vilification and hate speech.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Australia's laws make it a criminal offense to hold assets that are owned or controlled by terrorist organizations or individuals sanctioned under UNSCR 1267. The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) acts as Australia's money-laundering and counterterrorist financing regulator. AUSTRAC continued to fund capacity building technical assistance programs in Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Pacific, and Africa.

To better coordinate and exchange financial information, the government launched the Criminal Intelligence Fusion Center within the Australian Crime Commission in July 2010. The center co-located expert investigators and analysts from AUSTRAC and other government agencies. On November 11, the government released proposals to strengthen regulation of businesses providing international cash transfer services.

Regional and International Cooperation: Australian multilateral engagement continued in a wide range of forums. Australia has counterterrorism memoranda of understanding with Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Brunei, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, and the United Arab Emirates. 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 was instrumental in the International Civil Aviation Organization's efforts to update the Montreal and Hague Conventions, resulting in the successful conclusion of two new counterterrorism instruments in Beijing.

Australia and the United States exchanged information using APEC's Regional Movement Alert System. Australia has biometric data-sharing arrangements with the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and New Zealand.

From March to August 2010, Australia's largest ever national counterterrorism exercise, Mercury 10, was held across Australia. The "deployment phase" was conducted in late August. It was the first to include another country, with the involvement of New Zealand. In November, Australia and Malaysia established a bilateral counterterrorism working group. In December, Australia hosted the Ninth Annual Trilateral Security Dialogue Counterterrorism consultations with the United States and Japan.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The government funded projects encouraging tolerance of religious diversity. In November, the government announced approximately US$ 9.7 million to fund a youth mentoring program as part of a program to address radicalization.

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