Convicted terrorists are ‘faking’ one thing to hoodwink the nation’s legal system, parliament has been warned, after alarming numbers were revealed.
Convicted terrorists are ‘faking’ one thing to hoodwink the nation’s legal system, parliament has been warned, after alarming numbers were revealed.

The terrifying thing terrorists are ‘faking’

Law enforcement is concerned extremists are "faking" deradicalisation after revelations almost half of convicted terrorists have breached strict conditions placed upon them once released from jail.

The AFP has revealed three of eight convicted terrorists on control orders have been arrested for violating rules placed upon them to keep the community safe.

The revelations came as a Senate committee into legal affairs sat in Canberra on Friday.

Courts can issue control orders on convicted terrorists or suspects after they finish their jail sentence, imposing bail-like conditions such as curfews, limits on who they interact with, and how they use electronic devices.

Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the arrests showed the AFP would be "relentless" in its attempts to keep the community safe, but warned the system could be vulnerable to extremist "faking" deradicalisation.

"In our view, a lot of these individuals haven't changed their ideologies and that still remains a constant concern to us," he said.

Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw says he is concerned convicted terrorists will hoodwink deradicalisation programs. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw says he is concerned convicted terrorists will hoodwink deradicalisation programs. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

"What we're concerned about are people who have been allegedly deradicalised, but they've faked that and got through their tests.

"It's something we're watching carefully with our partners agencies not just here in Australia, but overseas."

Liberal Senator Claire Chandler said the revelations were alarming, particularly as monitoring convicted terrorists on control orders was resource-intensive.

"It does lead me, and I suspect most Australians, to think that the framework is not operating as well as it could," she said.

"It seems to me one of the best tactics to keep our community safe would be to keep these people in prison as long as possible."

Mr Kershaw said he would support that view.

He was pressed on whether those on control orders should be out in the community.

"Most police officers would say no," he replied.

Three of eight convicted terrorists have been arrested for breaching control orders, the committee heard. Picture: iStock / Getty Images
Three of eight convicted terrorists have been arrested for breaching control orders, the committee heard. Picture: iStock / Getty Images

Austrian authorities confirmed a terrorist who killed four people and injured 27 others in Vienna last month had passed a deradicalisation program, after serving a jail sentence for attempting to join Islamic State in Syria.

Home Affairs Minister secretary Mike Pezzullo told the committee deradicalisation was a "complex field that requires constant attention".

He said there were differing views among psychologists over the effectiveness of deradicalisation programs, which was an "active point of discussion" among law enforcement.

"Whether there has been a turnaround by way of remorse or true self reflection, or whether someone has the psychological tools to thwart our measurements," he said.

"This is very complex psychology, very complex psychological science … It is an active field and one in which we're doing a lot of work."

Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo warned deradicalisation was ‘very complex psychology’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo warned deradicalisation was ‘very complex psychology’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

The committee also heard that right-wing extremism posed a complex challenge for law enforcement, tending to be less structured, less predictable and more ideologically fluid than Islamic-inspired extremism.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told reporters on Friday that intelligence agencies treated any violent threat with the same seriousness.

"If there's a lunatic who is preaching some neo-nazi propaganda, or some perverted interpretation of the Quran, and they're there with the same desire to hurt Australians, they get treated exactly the same way by ASIO," he said.

"If somebody wants to blow up a movie theatre, or somebody wants to go in with a semi-automatic weapon into a food court, I don't care what the dress is, their religion, their skin color or their creed. I don't care. Our resources will be applied to neutralize that threat."

Peter Dutton said ASIO took extremists with the same level of seriousness, regardless of their ideology. Picture: NCA NewsWire /Gary Ramage
Peter Dutton said ASIO took extremists with the same level of seriousness, regardless of their ideology. Picture: NCA NewsWire /Gary Ramage

Mr Kershaw said the AFP was "alive to the growing threat" of right-wing extremism, whose adherents were more likely to have access to firearms.

But AFP Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney told the committee that law enforcement was particularly hampered in monitoring right-wing organisations, which often operated on the fringes of internet.

"It's a challenge. It's online, we're talking about encrypted communications and the dark web," he said.

He said new sweeping powers to police the 'dark web', proposed to parliament on Thursday, would be "incredibly vital" for law enforcement.

Originally published as Terrifying thing terrorists are 'faking'



What a whopper: ‘It took my breath away’

Premium Content What a whopper: ‘It took my breath away’

“Well I didn’t soil myself but it definitely took my breath away.”

Baby death: Court docs reveal disturbing allegations

Premium Content Baby death: Court docs reveal disturbing allegations

Court docs reveal further details on case against Mid North Coast dad

Plane tragedy: Investigation reveals cause of Coffs crash

Premium Content Plane tragedy: Investigation reveals cause of Coffs crash

The crash west of Coffs killed a pilot and his son in 2019 – now the investigation...