Terrorism in Australia

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Australia has known acts of modern terrorism since the 1960s, while the federal parliament, since the 1970s, has enacted legislation seeking to specifically target terrorism. Terrorism is defined as "an action or threat of action where the action causes certain defined forms of harm or interference and the action is done or the threat is made with the intention of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause".[1] In a government publication, transnational terrorism in particular is identified as a threat to Australia, driven by a misguided interpretation of Islam.[2]

Terrorist attacks conducted in Australia before 2001[edit]

A number of terrorists attacks occurred in Australia before 2001.[3] These include:

  • 1972 bombing of the Yugoslav General Trade Agency in Sydney;
  • 1978 bombing of the Sydney Hilton hotel during a Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting;
  • 1980 assassination of the Turkish Consul-General in Sydney;
  • 1982 bombing of the Israeli Consulate and the Hakoah Club in Sydney; and
  • 1986 bombing at the Turkish Consulate in Melbourne.

Terrorist attacks against Australians[edit]

The following actual attacks either happened in Australian territory, were targeted against Australia, or involved a substantial number of Australian casualties.

Sydney Hilton bombing[edit]

Main article: Sydney Hilton bombing

On 13 February 1978, a bomb exploded outside the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, which was hosting the first Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting. Two garbage collectors and a police officer were killed and eleven others were injured. As a result of the bombing, ASIO's powers and budget were greatly expanded. It was also a motivation for the formation of the Australian Federal Police.

Sydney Turkish Consul General assassination[edit]

On 17 December 1980, Sydney Turkish Consul General Şarık Arıyak and his security attaché Engin Sever were assassinated by two people on motorcycles wielding firearms in Sydney. The Justice Commandos for the Armenian Genocide claimed responsibility but the culprits were never identified and no charges were laid. The Consul General was gunned down despite having taken precautions in the form of not travelling in the official consulate Mercedes Benz vehicle and instead being chauffeured in the trailing security attaché's car.

Turkish consulate bombing[edit]

On 23 November 1986, a car bomb exploded in a carpark beneath the Turkish Consulate in South Yarra, Victoria, killing the bomber who failed to correctly set up the explosive device. Levon Demirian, a Sydney resident with links to the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, was charged over the attack and served 10 years.[4]

2002 Bali Bombing[edit]

Main article: 2002 Bali bombings

Occurred on 12 October 2002 in the tourist district of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali. The attack was the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of Indonesia or Australia, killing 202 people, of whom the largest portion (88) were Australians. A further 240 people were injured.

Other attacks[edit]

In 1990 two Australians were shot dead by the IRA in Roermond. The IRA later claimed it believed the men were off-duty British Army soldiers.[5]

The September 11th attacks in 2001, killed 11 Australians.

The Australian embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, was subjected to a car bomb attack in September 2004. Nine Indonesian nationals who worked at, or were passing by, the embassy were killed.

Legislation[edit]

Prior to the 1960s, there had not been any act in Australia that could accurately be deemed "terrorism" in the modern political and strategic sense of the word. Politically motivated violent incidents were rare, usually isolated, and for the most part driven by issues arising from political legislation, greed, or individuals being singled out, such as the attempted assassination of Australian Labor Party Leader Arthur Calwell in 1965 over his Vietnam War stance. Likewise the 1968 attack on the US Consulate in Melbourne was also regarded to be an isolated incident protesting the US involvement in Vietnam. The two exceptions to this state of affairs would be the assassination attempt on the Duke of Edinburgh in 1868 by an Irish Nationalist named O'Farrell, who was later executed for his crime, and an attack in Broken Hill in 1915 by Afghan supporters of the Sultan of Turkey.

Although it had known sporadic acts through its history, and examples of modern terrorism for almost a decade, Australia did not introduce terrorism specific laws into Parliament until the late 1970s. In 1977, after a three year inquiry into Australia's intelligence services, Justice Robert Hope delivered his Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security (RCIS). The RCIS recommended amongst other things that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation(ASIO) areas of investigation be widened to include terrorism. A further Protective Security Review by Justice Hope in 1978 following the Sydney Hilton bombing designated ASIO as the government agency responsible for producing national threat assessments in the field of terrorism and politically motivated violence.

Since then, successive governments have reviewed and altered the shape of both legislation and the agencies that enforce it to cope with the changing face, threat and scope of terrorism. It was not until after the attacks of 11 September 2001 however, that Australian policy began to change to reflect a growing threat against Australia and Australians specifically. Until then the view held from the 1960s had been that terrorist actions in Australia were considered as a problem imported from conflicts overseas and concerned with foreign targets on Australian soil.

As of March 2008, the latest legislation to be brought into effect is the Anti-Terrorism Act (No. 2) 2005.[6]

Timeline[edit]

  • 26 February 2006, Joseph 'Jack' Thomas convicted of receiving funds for a terrorist organisation.[7]

Organisations[edit]

In September 2007 there were 19 organisations designated and banned, by a court or a government department, for active involvement in terrorism. All but one of those organisations are Islamic. Identification of terrorist organisations may result from a prosecution for a terrorist offence, or from a listing determined by the Attorney-General of Australia.[8]

Militant Islamist Incidents[edit]

Faheem Khalid[edit]

Main article: Faheem Khalid Lodhi

Faheem Khalid Lodhi is an Australian architect accused of an October 2003 plot to bomb the national electricity grid or Sydney defence sites in the cause of violent jihad. He was convicted by a New South Wales Supreme Court jury in June 2006 on terrorism-related offences,[9] namely:

  • Preparation for terrorist attack, by seeking information for the purpose of constructing explosive devices
  • Seeking information and collecting maps of the Sydney electricity supply system and possessing 38 aerial photos of military installations in preparation for terrorist attacks
  • Possessing terrorist manuals detailing how to manufacture poisons, detonators, explosives and incendiary devices

He was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 15 years. His intended targets were the national electricity supply system, the Victoria Barracks, HMAS Penguin naval base, and Holsworthy Barracks. Justice Anthony Whealy commented at sentencing that Lodhi had "the intent of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause, namely violent jihad" to "instill terror into members of the public so that they could never again feel free from the threat of bombing in Australia."[10]

Mohammed Abderrahman[edit]

Main article: Willie Brigitte

Mohammed Abderrahman aka Willie Brigitte, is a French Islamist al-Qaeda recruit who resided with Faheem Lodhi while in Australia in 2003, during which time he married a former Australian Army signaller.[11] He was arrested by Australian immigration compliance officials in Sydney six weeks after the marriage[12] and deported to France.

His wife said before a French investigating judge that at times he had 'bombarded' her with questions on the subject of her military knowledge and career.[12] She reports that she rebuffed such questioning or responded minimally 'so that he would leave [her] in peace' and that she burned three of her notebooks originating from the period of her military service in East Timor as a precaution. She reported his anger about her taking such precautions, his presumption to forbid her from further similar actions, and she exactly confirmed his repeated statement of the opinion that "Allah and all Muslims need this information" in order to obtain information of a military character from her.[12]

In December 2006, it was reported that a basis for French terrorism-related charges laid against him was the allegation that he aided the murderers of Ahmad Shah Masood by supplying them with false identity documents.[13]

He is presently in custody as a terrorism suspect in France where prosecutors have called for him to be sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for his admitted involvement in a terrorist organisation.[14]

Joseph T. Thomas[edit]

Main article: Joseph T. Thomas

On 28 August 2006, following the quashing of his terrorism convictions, Joseph T. Thomas (also dubbed "Jihad Jack") was the first person to be issued with a control order under the Australian Anti-Terrorism Act 2005 after written consent was provided by the Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock.[15][16] In December 2007 a control order was issued against David Hicks to ensure that he was monitored upon his release.[17]

Sydney Five[edit]

Khaled Cheikho, Moustafa Cheikho, Mohamed Ali Elomar, Abdul Rakib Hasan and Mohammed Omar Jamal were found guilty of conspiring to commit a terrorist act or acts.[18] They were jailed on 15 February 2010 for terms ranging from 23 to 28 years.[19]

Benbrika Group in Melbourne[edit]

Main article: Abdul Nacer Benbrika

In September 2008, of an original nine defendants, five men including the Muslim cleric, Abdul Nacer Benbrika were convicted of planning a terrorist attack. During the trial, the jury heard evidence of plans to bomb the 2005 AFL Grand Final, 2006 Australian Grand Prix and the Crown Casino, as well as a plot to assassinate then Prime Minister John Howard.

[1]

Holsworthy Barracks terror plot[edit]

On 4 August 2009, four men in Melbourne have been charged over the Holsworthy Barracks terror plot, an alleged plan to storm the barracks with automatic weapons; and shoot army personnel or others until they were killed or captured.[20][21] The men are allegedly connected with the Somali-based terrorist group al-Shabaab.[22] Prime Minister Kevin Rudd subsequently announced a federal government review of security at all military bases.[23]

Other militant incidents[edit]

Peter James Knight[edit]

Main article: Peter James Knight

On 16 July 2001, Peter James Knight, described as an "obsessive anti-abortionist" who lived alone in a makeshift camp in rural New South Wales, attacked the East Melbourne Family Planning clinic, a privately run clinic providing abortions, carrying a rifle, and large quantities of kerosene and lighters. He shot and killed a security guard at the clinic before his capture and arrest. He was charged and convicted of murder, and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 23 years.[24]

While Knight was not charged with any specific terrorism offences, Australian terrorism academic Clive Williams listed the attack amongst incidents of politically motivated violence in Australia.[25]

Future threats[edit]

In January 2008, head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Nanyang Technological University, Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, said that a "New crop of home-grown jihadis, groomed to step up and replace the leaders of Australian terror cells who have been arrested or jailed, is almost "mature" enough to launch an operation".

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) reported it had 76 new counter-terrorism cases to investigate in the 2006-7 financial year, and they finalised another 83 cases. As of 30 June 2006, the AFP had 83 cases being actively examined by its counter-terrorism unit. The Mercury newspaper reported that "intelligence sources" are aware of the new threats, but they deny there is any evidence that the groups may be close to planning an attack inside Australia.

In early 2008, AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty and NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said they are investigating new terrorist threats, particularly in NSW.[26]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Commonwealth of Australia (15 July 2004). Transnational Terrorism: The Threat to Australia (PDF). 1.0. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. ISBN 1-920959-04-1. Retrieved 12 April 2008. 
  2. ^ Transnational Terrorism: The Threat to Australia
  3. ^ The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. "Counter Terrorism White Paper: Securing Australia - Protecting our Community". Dpmc.gov.au. Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  4. ^ Greek Bulgarian armenian Front MIPT
  5. ^ "Reward Offer Bringing in Tips in IRA Killing of Australians". Associated Press News Archive. 29 May 1990. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Commonwealth of Australia (16 February 2005). Anti-Terrorism Act (no. 2) 2005, No. 144, 2005 (PDF). Retrieved 12 April 2008. 
  7. ^ "Counter-terrorism and related cases". Attorney General's Department, Government of Australia. Archived from the original on 22 July 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2008. 
  8. ^ "Australian National Security - Listing of Terrorist Organisations". What Governments are Doing. Australian Government (Attorney-General's Department). 27 September 2007. Retrieved 11 March 2008. "...two ways for an organisation to be identified as a 'terrorist organisation' ... prosecution for a terrorist offence [or] the Attorney-General must be satisfied on reasonable grounds..." 
  9. ^ Lodhi guilty on terror charges Lodhi 'deserves' 20 years Lodhi jailed for 20 years over terror plot
  10. ^ Sydney terrorism suspect jailed for 20 years ABC 23/08/2006
  11. ^ Brigitte terrorism trial nears ABC News
  12. ^ a b c Testimony: Melanie Brown Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  13. ^ Brigitte claimed to be behind Masood assassination The World Today
  14. ^ Brigitte 'pressured' over terrorism plot confession ABC News
  15. ^ Michael Walton, A consolidation of the changes to the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) & Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (Cth) proposed in the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 (Cth), NSW Council for Civil Liberties, 16 October 2005
  16. ^ Jihad Jack wife's terror link Sydney Morning Herald 29 August 2006
  17. ^ Aussie Taliban Goes Free Time Magazine 29 December 2007
  18. ^ http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=664371
  19. ^ "Five Australians jailed for jihad plot". Reuters. 15 February 2010. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  20. ^ Cameron Stewart and Milanda Rout, 5 August 2009. "Somali extremists on a 'fatwa order' from God". The Australian, Retrieved on 5 August 2009
  21. ^ Melissa Iaria, 4 August 2009. "Terror suspects 'sought holy approval'". News.com.au, Retrieved on 4 August 2009
  22. ^ Janet Fife-Yeomans and Carly Crawford, 5 August 2009. "Terror suspects 'sought holy approval'". NEWS.COM.AU. Retrieved on 5 August 2009
  23. ^ 5 August 2009. "Govt orders review of security at military bases". News.com.au, Retrieved on 5 August 2009
  24. ^ Anti-abortion killer jailed for life
  25. ^ Williams, Clive (9 September 2006). "No, minister we are not free of terror". The Canberra Times. 
  26. ^ New crop of Jihadis is "set to step up" The Mercury 28 January 2008