U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 - Australia
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism|
|Publication Date||28 April 2006|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 - Australia, 28 April 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4681081423.html [accessed 21 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This 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.|
Australia launched substantial initiatives and worked with its regional neighbors to assist in building their resolve and capacity to confront terrorism. In November, Australian police arrested 18 suspected terrorists in Sydney and Melbourne, disrupting a potential terrorist attack on Australian soil. Australia enacted comprehensive counterterrorism legislation in December, enhancing the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to detect, detain, and prosecute suspected terrorists. The legislation featured new regimes for "preventative detention" of persons to prevent an imminent terrorist act as well as preserve evidence of a terrorist attack, and "control orders" that would allow the close monitoring of persons believed to pose a risk to the community. It also strengthened offenses for financing terrorism, increased police investigative powers, and modernized and further defined the sedition offenses to cover those who urge the use of force or violence against other groups in the community.
Australia announced funds for other new security measures to enhance its ability to manage mass casualty incidents, including establishing unified policing at Australia's major airports. It also created a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threat research facility and a chemical warfare agents laboratory network.
After the September release of the Wheeler Report on aviation security and policing at Australian airports, Australia announced substantial measures to tighten airport security, including establishing joint investigation teams, increasing Customs patrols, and strengthening air cargo security arrangements. In December, Australia announced that it would establish a new division in the Attorney General's Department to coordinate background checks on people working in the secure areas of airports and seaports. The new division will begin operation in July 2007. Bolstering identity verification and security for Australian travelers, the government began issuing a new security-enhanced "e-passport" in October that includes a microchip with a digital picture and personal details of the passport holder. In September, Australian federal and state governments also initiated a national action plan for counterterrorism that focused on combating extremism.
As a major component of protecting its national infrastructure, Australia opened the Joint Offshore Protection Command (JOPC) in March and began expanded security patrols of offshore areas, particularly oil and gas installations, which will detect threats to Australia's maritime assets and coastline.
Australia designated two additional terrorist organizations under its domestic criminal code, raising the total to 19. The Australian Government has domestic counterterrorism forums, such as the National Counterterrorism Committee (NCTC). The NCTC national exercise program tests, maintains, and strengthens Australia's counterterrorism and consequence management capabilities, command and control arrangements, and interoperability. Australia has been a major partner of the United States in combating terrorist financing. In 2005, the two nations jointly and successfully requested UN sanctions, including an asset freeze, travel ban, and arms embargo, for three leaders of JI and three leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Australia worked to strengthen the Asia-Pacific region's counterterrorism capacity through a range of initiatives in both bilateral and region groupings, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). Australia was one of the first countries to sign the new Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism when it opened for signature in September at the United Nations Leaders' Summit. Consistent with its international obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1373, Australia had listed 550 terrorist-related individuals, entities, and organizations by the end of 2005.
The Australian Ambassador for Counterterrorism chairs the International Counterterrorism Coordination Group (ICTCG), Australia's interagency counterterrorism working group. In May, Australia announced a four-year regional counterterrorism assistance package aimed at countering terrorist links and movements among the countries of maritime Southeast Asia, notably the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The package included new measures that built on successful regional cooperation in law enforcement, border and transport security, intelligence, and legal affairs. Key elements were developing effective counterterrorism legal frameworks in Southeast Asia, assisting the region with border control, strengthening fraud detection and immigration intelligence capabilities, enhancing law enforcement and intelligence cooperation capabilities, and bolstering transport security.
Australia took the lead in law enforcement and legal issues working groups that developed practical measures to strengthen regional counterterrorism cooperation following the Bali Regional Ministerial meeting in 2004. Australia also provided legal drafting assistance to regional states, including the South Pacific islands, seeking to adopt international conventions and protocols against terrorism and to bring their domestic laws into conformity with these conventions. Australian law enforcement agencies also continued to build practical working-level relationships with their regional counterparts, particularly through the joint Australian-Indonesian Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) located in Semarang, Indonesia. JCLEC is now fully operational as a counterterrorism training resource for the region, having offered more than 20 courses and trained more than 500 officers. Twenty-eight countries have been involved with JCLEC.
Australia signed three additional bilateral memoranda of understanding (MOUs) on counterterrorism in 2005 with Brunei, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, raising the total to 12. Other counterterrorism partners include Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Fiji, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, India, and East Timor. This extensive network of bilateral MOUs supports practical and operational-level cooperation, and has proved beneficial. For example, Australia's MOU with Indonesia provided the basis for cooperation between the Australian and Indonesian police in investigating the Bali bombings of 2002 and 2005, the Marriott hotel bombing of 2003, the Australian Embassy bombing of 2004.
Australia contributed an additional 450 troops to Iraq and 190 Special Forces personnel to Afghanistan in 2005.
Prime Minister Howard led efforts to engage Australia's Muslim community to work together to combat extremism, holding a summit with prominent Muslim leaders in August. PM Howard designated his Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs to continue a dialogue with the Muslim community, including Muslim youth.