COVID-19 fails to curb Aussie terror threat

 

COVID-19 has not diminished the "probable" likelihood of a terror attack in Australia, security and law enforcement chiefs have revealed.

A national teleconference last week of state and federal law enforcement chiefs including the Australian Federal Police and security counterparts ASIO and ASIS has concluded intent to recruit the vulnerable to terror causes remains high.

The virtual meeting was held specifically to review the current national threat situation and while coronavirus had lessened crowded public potential targets, extremists were still very active online.

NSW Police Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Commander Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton who attended the meeting would not go into specifics, but confirmed concerns remained.

"We don't have a sense that the threat has diminished and whilst the COVID environment does shift the way everyone's doing business it doesn't mean the level of interest or intent is not still in the community," he told News Corp Australia.

 

NSW Police Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Commander Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton. Picture: John Grainger
NSW Police Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Commander Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton. Picture: John Grainger

 

"In the COVID environment everything has become more difficult in the face-to-face real world so perhaps that's why a lull is there to that extent, no-one is as active physically as they were pre-March but there is no doubt in our minds the same level of threat risk exists nationally and internationally as it has done because of what we are seeing in that online environment, that communications environment."

Of particular concern were those now spending hours on the internet reading extremist material "normalising" what would normally be seen as abhorrent.

"The concern for us is the emotive reach that that might have, the impact it has on vulnerable people particularly young people who can so easily consume its product and be radicalised as a result," he said.

 

Image taken from ISIS's shocking new recruitment video “Incite the Believers” urging attack on Australia and the West using fire. Picture: Supplied
Image taken from ISIS's shocking new recruitment video “Incite the Believers” urging attack on Australia and the West using fire. Picture: Supplied

 

"The internet is the petri dish of hate, it's a petri dish of a lot of things that are really adverse in our society that just makes the perverse normal at times because of its ability to interrogate it or consume it and the volume can also impact on particularly young and vulnerable minds that normalise what could be considered abnormal material or ideologies."

He said it was fair to say ISIS remnants continued as did al-Qaeda but individuals following "an ideology that clusters and the risk of individuals actions is always greater or as great than any organised collective".

"We would never take our foot off the accelerator in our counter terrorism investigation environment from state, federal and security partner work," he added.

Last week ISIS released another video, albeit basic, calling on extremists to use fire as a weapon, citing the national bushfires last summer.

Originally published as COVID-19 fails to curb Aussie terror threat



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