Friday, September 12, 2014

12-Sep-14: In Australia, the focus on home-grown terrorists gets sharper

Islamist "Black Standard" flag, symbol of Jihad and end-of-days philosophy, borne by
anti-Israel philosophers in a "rally" outside Sydney Town Hall,
July 20, 2014 [Image Source]
Follow up to our post ["09-Sep-14: In Australia, terrorism no longer as far away as it once seemed"] from Wednesday:
The Australian government on Friday elevated its terrorism threat level to the second-highest warning in response to the domestic threat posed by Islamic State movement supporters. Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the increase from “medium” to “high” on a four-tier scale on the advice of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. The domestic spy agency’s Director-General David Irvine warned this week that the terrorist threat level had been rising in Australia over the past year, due in part to Australians joining Islamic State to fight in Syria and Iraq. “I want to stress that this does not mean that a terror attack is imminent,” Abbott told reporters. “We have no specific intelligence of particular plots.” “What we do have is intelligence that there are people with the intent and the capability to mount attacks.” It is the first time that the threat level has been elevated above medium since the scale was introduced in 2003. [Source]
In The Age (Melbourne) today, they add some more detail:
  • Prime minister Abbott is confident that the authorities are "smarter than terrorists and would-be terrorists" and will remain "one step ahead"...
  • The new terrorism threat level will "not make any difference to daily life" for the vast majority of Australians but will mean "more security" at airports, ports, military bases, public buildings and large public events, including the upcoming AFL Grand Finals. But "football fans should not be deterred from attending the games..." Acting Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin: "You may expect to see heightened police presence but it won't be intrusive, I'm sure..." 
  • Irvine of ASIO: "The rhetoric that is now coming out of the Middle East which is encouraging Australians to take violent action … increases the possibility of attacks here, and so we see an increase particularly in intent.. It could manifest itself in a Bali-type attack or it could manifest itself in the various other sorts of attacks from loners through to small groups to large activities..."
  • 60 to 70 Australians are among the 10,000 foreign fighters fighting alongside the terrorists in Iraq and Syria and some had already returned home. 
A report in Wednesday's The Australian says Australian security authorities are "concerned about a handful of Muslim extremists, operating in groups of three or four, who have broken away from mainstream mosques and the broader Islamic community."

That same Wednesday, two days ago, some 180 officers from the AFP and Queensland Police swooped on nine properties across Brisbane in the northern Australian state of Queensland, among them an Islamic bookshop - the Iqraa Islamic Centre - in Brisbane, arresting two men. Both were charged with terrorism-related offences. A television news reporter [here] says one of the two is the brother of Australia's first Islamist human bomb (though he used the inaccurate and unfortunate term "suicide bomber"). He was referring to Omar Succarieh, the brother of Ahmed Succarieh who in September 2013 drove a truck laden with several tonnes of explosives into an army installation at the Deir al-Zour military airport in in northeast Syria. The bomber was named on social media sites at the time as "Abu Asma al-Australi", an alias that the media speculated "could refer to a Brisbane man named Ahmed" [video here]. All that was said at the time was that he "is understood to have a wife, at least one brother, and possibly a child."

Brisbane, Wednesday: The bookstore is on the very far right in both senses; getting distracted
by puppies and golf would be a mistake
Australians' natural but misplaced sense of distance and relative security will likely have been reinforced by the video images of the raided premises given the prominent signs on the facade of the two shopping-strip neighbours [screen shot above; source]. This is a pity because - as the references to Bali and other unmentioned terror attacks indicate - Australia has paid heavily in this ongoing war already.

Australian concern with the scale of the issue can be sensed from an analysis of population growth trends:
The number of Muslims in Australia will grow four times more quickly than non-Muslims over the next 20 years [calculated using fertility, mortality and migration rates]
as the continued instability in developing Islamic countries in Southeast Asia drives migrants and refugees to these shores. A major new [2011] study by the US-based [Pew Research Centre's Forum on Religion and Public Life] has forecast a global surge in the Muslim population, with Australia and New Zealand among the nations expected to see the biggest rises. In Australia, the Muslim community will grow from about 399,000 to 714,000 by 2030, an increase of 80 per cent. In that time the non-Muslim population will increase by about 18 per cent. [Source: The Australian, January 29, 2011]

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