U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2006 - Australia

In addition to its substantial ongoing efforts to combat domestic and international terrorism, Australia launched new initiatives working with its regional neighbors to assist in building their resolve and capacity to confront terrorism. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) Joint Counterterrorism Teams' (JCTT) multi-agency effort to address domestic and international terrorism concerns in Australia's six largest cities became fully operational this year. In March, Australian police arrested three suspected terrorists in Melbourne as part of an ongoing counterterrorism operation, disrupting a significant threat to the community. In August, an Australian court sentenced Faheem Khalid Lodhi to 20 years in prison for plotting to bomb Australia's national electricity grid. Regional cooperation between Australian and Southeast Asian government agencies continued to disrupt terrorist operations. Active cooperation with immigration agencies in the region strengthened border controls and impeded terrorists' ability to travel, recruit, train, and operate.

In December, Australia enacted new anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing (AML/CTF) legislation that would make the Australian Transaction Reports Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), which monitors financial transactions, the national AML/CTF regulator with supervisory, monitoring, and enforcement functions over a diverse range of industry sectors. Australia strengthened its intelligence capabilities by funding additional staff and technical capabilities, and established identity security strike teams to investigate and prosecute people and syndicates involved in manufacturing false identities.

As part of measures Australia undertook in response to the 2005 Wheeler Report on Aviation Security and Policing at Australian Airports, airport police commanders began their new role overseeing crime and security-related matters at eleven counterterrorism first response airports in the country. Australia announced in its budget that it would enhance closed circuit television monitoring and analysis capability at its international airports. This will expand the deployment of explosives trace-detection equipment for the examination of domestic air cargo at each of Australia's major airports and will improve the quality of security training for cargo handlers. Australia committed to enhancing its capability to identify, inspect, and respond to high-risk export air cargo through the deployment of additional explosives detector-dog teams; the provision of additional mobile X-ray vans; and the trial of communications technology to achieve real-time air cargo reporting. The Australian government provided additional funding to enhance its ability to detect, deter, and respond to illegal activity near its borders, including illegal fishing and trafficking in persons, through increased surveillance and patrolling.

Australia used its position as Chair of the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies (WA) to increase awareness of the Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) threat and the need for more effective export controls, and to solicit greater cooperation, particularly from states that produce, export, or stockpile MANPADS. Australia also led outreach missions to non-Wassenaar states China, India, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Singapore. In June, Australia hosted an international seminar in Geneva to promote the need for practical action to counter the global MANPADS threat. In the same month, Australia, the United States, and the Philippines hosted a workshop in Manila on the methodology of conducting airport MANPADS vulnerability assessments. In August, Australia advocated for increased efforts to counter the proliferation of MANPADS at the UN Conference on Disarmament. In October, Australia co-chaired with Thailand an ASEAN Regional Forum workshop on stockpile security of MANPADS and small arms and light weapons to help regional countries strengthen their domestic inventory controls.

The Australian ambassador for counterterrorism chaired the International Counterterrorism Coordination Group, Australia's interagency counterterrorism working group. Australia increased its four-year regional counterterrorism assistance package by about $70 million to boost the capacity of neighbor countries to combat terrorism, bringing the total amount committed to offshore counterterrorism activities since 2004 to $350 million. Building on successful regional cooperation among law enforcement, intelligence, and border control authorities, the package included new measures and a new emphasis on expanding regional cooperation. Cooperation will focus on countering the threat of terrorists acquiring or using weapons of mass destruction, building regional capability for responding to terrorist attacks, and commencing activities to promote tolerance and counteract terrorist propaganda. Key programs included funding for enhancing law enforcement counterterrorism capacity and liaison networks, expanding intelligence cooperation capabilities, improving border control capability and coordination in Southeast Asia, further developing the APEC Regional Movement Alert System, enhancing Indonesia's border alert system at major ports, building regional awareness of the terrorist WMD threat and strengthening regional controls on chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials, and improving regional emergency response capacity and coordination. In July, Australia became an initial partner nation in the U.S. Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and, in October, it participated in a second Trilateral Counterterrorism Dialogue with the United States and Japan.

Australia continued to provide 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. In February, Australia opened the upgraded Transnational Crime Centre in Jakarta which was first established as a joint initiative between Australia and Indonesia in the aftermath of the 2002 Bali bombings. The center housed Indonesia's first national intelligence database, linking 30 locations throughout the country. The joint Australian-Indonesian Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) located in Semarang, Indonesia has offered more than 50 courses and trained more than 1,200 officers to date. The AFP committed additional agents to Jakarta and Manila to work closely with those governments and the FBI to apprehend JI fugitives.

The AFP received funding to expand its investigative and specialist training, currently delivered to regional law enforcement partners through facilities like JCLEC. Funding was also targeted toward conducting offshore exercises and training with regional partners, increasing the number of counterterrorism advisers working in the AFP's international liaison officer network, introducing to high priority locations a custom-built Case Management and Information System developed for use in overseas jurisdictions, and enhancing specialist forensic and technical training for law enforcement agencies in the region. The Australian government substantially increased the AFP's International Deployment Group by over 400 personnel and created an Operational Response Group ready to respond on short notice to emerging law and order issues and to conduct stabilization operations.

Australia contributed an additional 500 troops to Afghanistan as part of a Dutch-led provincial reconstruction team. By year's end, there were 1,000 Australian troops in Iraq and 800 in Afghanistan. Australia designated a total of 19 terrorist organizations under its domestic criminal code.

The Government of Australia and its Muslim advisory body, the Muslim Community Reference Group, continued efforts begun in 2005 to develop and implement a National Action Plan to promote social cohesion, harmony, and security. The plan committed almost $30 million for a range of activities to address extremism and intolerance in the Australian community. Activities will include integration enhancement and crisis management training for Muslim communities, and education and employment programs that work to bring law enforcement agencies and Muslim communities together to resolve issues of conflict and discrimination.


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