Thursday September 27 2012
– Violent young Muslim men who took part in the Sydney riot two weeks ago could step up to become the next terrorists if they fall under the wrong influences, a senior Australian Federal Police officer said yesterday.
He said the new lone-wolf mode of attack was even more challenging for all security agencies than large scale plots. “These are hard core people who are not going to stop and probably need to be jailed to keep the community safer.”
International experts have suggested that many terrorists have a very superficial understanding of their cause, and the AFP’s assistant commissioner for counter-terrorism, Steve Lancaster said of the Sydney protesters “a small group just wanted to go and punch on with the coppers – straight out hooliganism”. But it took a quantum leap to go from talking about violence to being a terrorist.
He said Lebanese were over-represented in the distorted Sunni Islamist ideology in Australia, making 23% of the Muslim population but 60% of those arrested on terror charges.
Some Muslims in Australia had strong links with Lebanon, Afghanistan and Pakistan. “When they return it is very difficult to find out what they’ve been up to and how extreme they’ve become. It’s very difficult to assess what influence they will have in Australia. That’s why it’s important to have strong links with international authorities.”
Mr Lancaster said the raids earlier this month on people associated with the al-Furqan bookshop in Springvale showed terrorism was still a real threat, but the trend was moving from large, spectacular attacks to small, simple attacks.
Shandon Harris-Hogan, at Monash University’s Global Terrorism Research Centre, said terrorists’ target selection and means had changed in the past five years. The new trend was independent “self-starters” who favoured using guns and knives against combatants, compared to armed groups overseas.
Andrew Zammit, another Monash researcher, told the conference that since 2003 – unlike other Western countries – Australia had only experienced self-starting plots, and the threat now came from groups and individuals more often inspired by al-Qaeda than directed by them.
It was not because Australia lacked jihadis, as dozens had travelled to train or fight overseas. The main factor was that global terrorism’s “middle management”, the people who linked the grassroots with the leadership and the overseas training camps, had been largely disrupted.
Samir Dandan, president of the Lebanese Muslim Association, said Mr Lancaster was demonising people based on prosecutions, not convictions, so that the percentile of Lebanese could be lower when all the cases were heard – Barney Zwartz


About Jumpin' Jack Cash
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