Printer Friendly

Australian Jihadism in the age of the Islamic State.

On December 23, 2016, Australian counterterrorism authorities raided houses across Melbourne to disrupt a suspected terror plot inspired by the Islamic State. Four men were charged for allegedly planning to detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the center of Melbourne on Christmas Day, targeting such popular locations as Federation Square and St. Paul's Cathedral. (1)

This plot was just the most recent manifestation of what had become a continuous threat for Australia. Four violent jihadi attacks had occurred since September 2014, resulting in the deaths of one police employee, two civilians, and three perpetrators. Security agencies had foiled up to 12 jihadi plots during the same 16-month period. Whereas jihadi plots were once rare in Australia, today the threat has undergone a dramatic change. This article explains the threat transformation. It outlines the 16 alleged or proven plots since late 2014, shows how Australian jihadism has evolved since the 1990s to reach its current level, and explains how the plots became more frequent, though less sophisticated.

The Current Threat: Its Scale and Form

After September 2014, when the Islamic State escalated its efforts to launch attacks abroad, Australia faced an unprecedented series of terror attempts. This began shortly before the now-deceased Islamic State spokesman Mohammad al-Adnani's worldwide call to arms on September 22 of that year. (2) On September 12, the National Terrorism Alert Level was raised from medium to high for the first time in its history. (3) This move was made on the advice of the

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), which had long been concerned that the foreign fighter flow to Syria would be a "game changer." (4) Less than a week later, security agencies intercepted a message from a Syria-based Australian Islamic State member allegedly instructing his supporters at home to murder a random member of the public. (5) On September 19, 2014, the agencies responded by launching Australia's largest ever counterterrorism raids. More than 800 federal and state police officers in Joint Counter-Terrorism Teams (JCTTs) (a) raided houses across Sydney and Brisbane to suppress the threat and disrupt suspected support networks. (6)

Counterterrorism operations soon became routine, with raids occurring roughly every month. By the end of 2016, up to 12 alleged jihadi plots had been disrupted by counterterrorism action while four violent attacks had occurred. These incidents are summarized in the appendix. (b)

These plots share several characteristics. First, the role of the Islamic State itself was often limited. Some of the plots involved virtual planning (where overseas Islamic State members communicated directly with the plotters in Australia to instruct and encourage them), (7) while most appear to have been launched by unconnected individuals merely inspired by the Islamic State. Similarly, none of the Australian plots involved returned fighters from Syria or Iraq, nor were they centrally planned by the Islamic State in a way comparable to attacks in Brussels and Paris. (8) This contrasts with the situation in Europe. According to a 2016 dataset created by scholars Petter Nesser, Anne Stenersen, and Emilie Oftedal, there were 38 Islamic State-associated terror plots in Europe between January 2014 and October 2016. In only six of these was the Islamic State's role limited to just inspiration. (c)

Another characteristic of the Australian plots is that most of them were small-scale and unsophisticated, being carried out by individual attackers or very small cells. They tended to involve blades or sometimes firearms (mainly handguns or shotguns) rather than attempts to make explosives. In most cases, the plotters did not appear to seek mass casualties but aimed to kill one or more people in a highly public manner. The most common targets were police officers.

This is not unique to Australia; such attacks have been seen across the West in recent years. What is distinctive is that Australia's current threat has consisted almost entirely of these types of relatively unsophisticated plots. This reality makes the threat Australia faces different than Europe, which experienced several Islamic State plots involving explosives like triacetone triperoxide (TATP) and automatic firearms. (9) The main exception was the suspected Christmas Day 2016 plot in Melbourne, where the attackers were unusually ambitious and allegedly attempting to make IEDs and target popular venues.

The current threat also differs from Australia's past jihadi activity. The four main jihadi plots Australia experienced before 2014 (occurring in 2000, 2003, 2005, and 2009) were more ambitious. These pre-2014 plots sought to cause mass casualties, often by using explosives and usually involving returned foreign fighters.

Understanding this transformation requires understanding of how jihadism within Australia has evolved over the past 20 years and how the counterterrorism response has shaped the threat.

How the Threat Grew

Prior to 9/11, Australia was not significantly affected by the political events behind modern jihadism, such as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise and fall of Islamist movements in the Middle East and North Africa. In contrast, Europe became an inadvertent haven from the 1980s onward as members of mainly Egyptian and Algerian jihadi groups fled state crackdowns. Support networks also formed in Europe to mobilize foreign fighters, first to the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan and then to Bosnia and Chechnya, helping to create the groundwork for future attacks. (10)

The Australian situation was different, however, with few jihadi support networks present before 9/11. The main exception was that the Indonesian jihadi group Jemaah Islamiyah established a small Australian branch focused on fundraising, with an estimated 30 members across Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne. (11) There were also informal pro-jihadi networks mainly located in Sydney and centered on a few key figures, such as Belal Khazaal. Before arriving in Australia from Lebanon in 1987, Khazaal had reportedly been part of a Sunni jihadi milieu based around Palestinian camps in Sidon, which included followers of Abdullah Azzam. (12) In the 1990s, he was a leader in the Islamic Youth Movement (whose membership has been estimated at fewer than 50), which produced an extremist magazine called Nida'ul Islam that ran interviews with Usama bin Ladin, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Abu Qatada, and the leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah and several other jihadi groups. (13) He would later be convicted in absentia by Lebanese courts for terrorism offenses and also convicted in Australia for compiling a terrorist manual. (14 d) The networks surrounding Khazaal interacted closely with Jemaah Islamiyah's Australian branch at times, and some members of these networks trained in Afghanistan with al-Qa'ida and in Pakistan with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Yet on the whole, Australia was mostly unaffected by, and somewhat oblivious to, the global jihadi threat.

This did not last. After the 9/11 attacks, three factors escalated the threat within Australia. The first factor was opportunity. The rise of al-Qa'ida affiliates and emergence of new jihadi theaters across the world provided new avenues for people to join the movement. (15) Aspiring Australian jihadis took advantage of this reality over the next decade. Some continued to train in Pakistan, but this largely ended around 2003. Several Australians became involved with Lebanese jihadi groups such as Asbat al-Ansar and Fatah al-Islam, while some joined jihadi groups in Somalia and Yemen. (16)

The second factor was that Australia's strategic significance increased. Before 9/11, Australia had less strategic importance for the global jihadi movement and only experienced one known jihadi plot. This was al-Qa ' ida's unsuccessful attempt to co-opt members of Jemaah Islamiyah's Australian branch to attack the Israeli Embassy in Canberra, the Consulate in Sydney, and a prominent Jewish businessman in Melbourne. (17) The targets and timing (during the build-up to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, which would guarantee global publicity) suggests that Australia was seen as a potential arena for violence rather than a valuable target.

After 9/11, this changed. As Australia joined the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and provided extensive counterterrorism assistance to Southeast Asian countries following the 2002 Bali bombings, it was repeatedly named in al-Qa'ida propaganda. (18) It became clear to aspiring jihadis within Australia that the country was deemed a legitimate target. Moreover, global jihadi propaganda evolved to designate the West as a generic enemy (sometimes citing issues other than foreign policy, such as cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad) regardless of a particular Western country's relationship with the United States. (19)

The designation of Australia as a target was not limited to threatening statements. In late 2002, Melbourne man Joseph Thomas was offered money by senior al-Qa'ida figure Khalid bin Attash to identify military installations to target in Australia. (20) This did not result in a plot, but it demonstrated al-Qa'ida's active interest in attacking Australia, which was shared by other jihadi groups. In 2003, security agencies uncovered a plot involving Sydney resident Faheem Lodhi, who had trained with LeT. (21) He had coordinated with French LeT trainee Willie Brigitte and senior LeT figure Sajid Mir, who would become one of the masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai massacre. (22) In September 2004, the Australian Embassy in Indonesia was bombed by an al-Qa'ida-aligned splinter of Jemaah Islamiyah. (23)

The third factor was that radicalization increased within Australia, boosting the potential number of willing participants. This was partly prompted by some foreign fighters, who had left Australia in the late 1990s and early 2000s, returning from Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was also spurred by al-Qa'ida's message being broadcasted globally through online and other means. At the same time, the "War on Terror" became part of Australia's domestic political atmosphere, subjecting Muslims to a degree of political and media hostility, potentially reinforcing al-Qa'ida's narrative of a Western war against Islam. (e) Some Australians who had not been involved in jihadism before 9/11 now became involved, manifesting in a series of self-starting terror plots.

One such plot, foiled by Operation Pendennis in 2005, involved two terrorist cells in Melbourne and Sydney who had amassed bomb-making equipment. (24) The plotters pointed to Australia's role in Afghanistan and Iraq and were inspired by the global spread of jihadism, with their leader citing "the bombings in New York and Washington, Bali, Madrid, Jakarta, London and Iraq, as exemplars to be admired and emulated." (25) Some of the terrorists were returned foreign fighters (one member of the Melbourne cell had trained with al-Qa'ida, and some members of the Sydney cell trained with LeT), but several were recently radicalized. (26)

These three factors (increased opportunity through the spread of jihadi theaters, Australia's increased strategic importance, and the rise of local radicalization) contributed to a small but persistent level of jihadi activity within Australia for the first decade after 9/11. Then, the Syrian civil war and rise of the Islamic State escalated the threat further. The Islamic State's initial battlefield successes, its global propaganda, online mobilization, and until recently, the relative ease of traveling through Turkey, made it more difficult for distant countries to remain unaffected. (27)

This created a foreign fighter flow larger than any earlier transnational jihadi mobilization, which Australia became swept up in. According to the most recent public ASIO estimates, (f) there are currently 100 Australians in Syria and Iraq involved with jihadi groups (mainly the Islamic State). In addition, somewhere between 64 and 70 Australian members of these groups have been killed in the conflict. Around 190 people still within Australia are suspected of providing various forms of support, such as funding, facilitating the flow of fighters, and allegedly an attempt to assist the Islamic State with missile technology. (28)

The mobilization drew on earlier jihadi networks. For example, Khaled Sharrouf, who had served prison time for being part of the Sydney cell in the 2005 plot foiled by Operation Pendennis, managed to leave Australia and join the Islamic State. (29) He was joined by Mohamed Elomar, who had had one uncle (Mohammed Ali Elomar) convicted for his role in the Pendennis plot, and another uncle (Hussein Elomar) convicted of terrorism offenses in Lebanon. (30) Ezzit Raad, convicted for his role in the Melbourne cell in the same plot, also joined the Islamic State and was eulogized in the Islamic State's online magazine Rumiyah after he died in combat. (31) However, many other Australians involved had no role in these earlier networks. Some individuals made their own journey to the conflict zone, while new jihadi networks formed in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane and reached out to the Islamic State.

A significant proportion of the Australian fighters are reportedly of Lebanese heritage, as the mobilization built on a history of jihadi connections between Australia and Lebanon, along with outrage against the Assad regime's atrocities against Sunni Muslims in the Levant. (32) But many participants, particularly members of these newer networks, had no familial connection to the region and came from a range of ethnicities, including Afghan, Turkish, Somali, and Anglo backgrounds, consistent with the Islamic State's global appeal. (33)

This unprecedented mobilization heightened the threat within Australia. As part of the international coalition against the Islamic State, Australia continued to hold strategic importance. Australia was labeled a target in Islamic State videos, Dabiq magazine, and public messages from Islamic State fighters. (34) In several cases, Australian Islamic State fighters called out to their compatriots to launch violence at home and sometimes directly instigated attacks. Sydney man Mohammad Ali Baryalei left for Syria in 2013 and joined Jabhat al-Nusra, then defected to the Islamic State and allegedly instigated a terror plot resulting in the September 2014 Operation Appleby raids. (35) Sydney woman Shadi Jabar Khalil Mohammad, the sister of the 15-year-old boy who murdered NSW police employee Curtis Cheng, joined the Islamic State and married Sudanese national Abu Sa'ad al-Sudani. After they were killed in a U.S. airstrike, the Pentagon described the couple as "active in recruiting foreign fighters and efforts to inspire attacks against western interests." (36)

Most significant was Melbourne man Neil Prakash, a convert from Buddhism who became Australia's most prominent Islamic State figure. (37) Court proceedings for the 2015 Anzac Plot showed that the Melbourne-based plotter believed Prakash would send him the details of Australian Army personnel to murder. (38) This resembles Islamic State plots elsewhere, such as British jihadi Junaid Hussain's attempt to direct an Ohio-based terrorist to murder a U.S. military employee. (39) However, Prakash does not appear to have sent the list, and the plot ended up targeting police officers. (40) Prakash was reportedly involved in other violent efforts until he was injured in U.S. airstrike in May 2016. He was initially reported killed but was later arrested in Turkey and might be extradited to Australia. (41) The government described him as "actively involved both in recruitment and in encouraging domestic terrorist events ... he was the principal Australian reaching back from the Middle East into Australia, and in particular, to terrorist networks in both Melbourne and Sydney." (42)

All in all, the Islamic State's emergence, its successful strategy for mass mobilization, its explicit inclusion of Australia as a target from September 2014 onward, and its use of Australian fighters to reach back to their compatriots at home exacerbated earlier trends and escalated the jihadi threat within Australia.

How the Threat Took its Current Form

While the threat grew in scale, it also changed in form. More plots were occurring, but they were less ambitious. They tended to be small-scale and only occasionally involved trying to make explosives. Instead, they usually relied on blades and non-automatic firearms. One likely reason for this is that propaganda explicitly encouraged it. Since al-Adnani's September 2014 call to arms, Islamic State propaganda has called on its Western-based supporters to act urgently with whatever means available, without having to seek prior permission or engage in long-term planning. (43) Following the Islamic State's exhortations, these sorts of ad-hoc plots have increased throughout Western countries. (44)

However, the current threat landscape has also been shaped by distinct features of Australia's counterterrorism response. After 9/11, the government boosted funding for security agencies, introduced new counterterrorism laws, and created new institutional arrangements. Other measures included restricting access to useful materials, such as limiting the sale of fertilizers that could be used to make explosives. Access to firearms was already limited by gun control measures introduced after a mass shooting in 1996. (A black market for firearms does exist but is not necessarily easy for aspiring jihadis to access.) These measures made ambitious terrorist plots increasingly difficult; communication intercepts played during terrorism trials sometimes revealed frustrated discussions about the difficulty of acquiring guns. (45) Unless the terrorists were well connected to broader criminal or terrorist networks, they needed to either expend time and effort trying to acquire explosives or automatic firearms or act faster by using alternative means. In line with the Islamic State's emphasis on urgency, many plotters resorted to simpler methods.

One particularly important aspect of the security crackdown was efforts to stop suspected jihadis from traveling. Being an island with few exit-points, Australia was in a better position to restrict travel than many other countries. In the first decade after 9/11, ASIO canceled over 50 passports on counterterrorism grounds. (46) Agencies also curbed the activities of facilitators who arranged access to jihadi groups based abroad. (47) These actions helped prevent more extremists from accessing terrorist training and international connections.

Travel restrictions carried their own risks, and on some occasions, the suspects lashed out at authorities. In 2003, one suspect, Zaky Mallah, threatened violence against government officials after his passport application was refused. (48) In 2013, Ahmed al-Ahmadzai, a terror suspect closely watched by authorities and whose passport had been denied, threatened to slit an ASIO officer's throat. (49) Most seriously, this approach risked increasing the likelihood of aspiring foreign fighters turning to mass-casualty terror attacks at home. This became clear with Operation Neath in 2009, when the Victorian JCTT foiled a plan by Melbourne-based men to carry out a mass shooting against an Army barracks in Sydney. (50) Some of the plotters had earlier tried to join the Somali jihadi group al-Shabaab, but they turned their violent focus on Australia after their passports were confiscated. (51)

Security agencies have been aware of these risks but judged them to be worth taking, given the benefits. (52) Restricting travel has both prevented suspects from gaining deadly skills and connections, and upheld international security obligations by stopping them from posing a threat to other countries. (g) Consequently, when the Syrian civil war sparked a renewed foreign fighter mobilization, the government increased these efforts. ASIO canceled 45 passports in the financial year from 2013-2014, 93 from 2014-2015, and 62 from 2015-2016. This was a significant escalation, as they had never before canceled more than 20 in a single year. (53)

Action was also again taken against facilitators. In 2013, the New South Wales JCTT arrested Hamdi Alqudsi, who was later convicted for assisting at least six Australians to join Ahrar al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the Islamic State, and attempting to assist a seventh. (54) In 2014, the Queensland JCTT arrested Omar Succarieh, later convicted for assisting a group of Australians who had joined Jabhat al-Nusra. (55) In addition, the newly created Australian Border Force was deployed to airports and tasked with detecting potential jihadis trying to get on flights. (56)

The success in preventing travel likely played a role in the surge of terror attempts. Some of the plotters had been prevented from traveling to join the Islamic State shortly before their attacks. This was the case for Numan Haider, who stabbed two JCTT officers in Melbourne, and Sevdet Besim, who conspired to murder one or more police officers during Anzac Day services. (57) It appears to have also been the case in some of the other incidents, although details are unclear on those that have not yet been through court. (58)

Police have been a prominent target in such plots, which is unsurprising given that Islamic State propaganda has singled out members of security agencies as ideal targets. However, travel restrictions and the largely successful counterterrorism crackdown may have contributed as well. The suspects were often aware they were under police scrutiny, having had their passports taken or friends arrested, so there could be elements of opportunism and personal revenge in their decisions to target police.

However, if travel restrictions have partly prompted the surge in attacks, they have also helped keep the plots poorly prepared. After all, revealing to suspects that they are under surveillance potentially increases their sense of urgency. In addition, such restrictions can leave plotters unable to establish substantial enough connections to the Islamic State to gain terrorist training or logistical support, demonstrated by the absence of known plots involving returned Islamic State fighters.

Partly as a result, Australia has not had to deal with an Islamic State returnee problem on the scale that Europe has. It is currently estimated that around 40 Australians have returned after fighting in Syria or Iraq. (59) Most had returned by early 2013, before the Islamic State was established in its current form. (60) Many potential returnees may have been deterred by the wave of new counterterrorism laws, the public demonstration effect of counterterrorism operations from September 2014 onward, and the knowledge that it is difficult to enter Australia unnoticed. In contrast, the Islamic State has infiltrated a significant number of fighters back into Europe and established substantial underground infrastructure. (61) This has made centrally planned Islamic State plots less feasible in Australia than in countries like France and Belgium.

That said, border controls do not protect countries from virtually planned attacks, where Islamic State operatives in Syria and Iraq communicate with the plotters to provide instructions and encouragement. In the Anzac Day 2015 plot, the Mother's Day 2015 plot, and the February 2015 Sydney plot, the perpetrators received instructions from Islamic State figures abroad. (62) This appears to have also been the case in some of the alleged plots that have not yet been through the courts, such as the Sydney 2014 plot allegedly ordered by Australian Islamic State figure Mohammed Ali Baryalei. Nor do border controls prevent unconnected jihadis from heeding the Islamic State's call to arms. However, they have helped keep Australia's jihadi threat manageable for the time being.

Conclusion

The escalation of jihadi plots in Australia was in many ways an acceleration of earlier trends. Australia once seemed significantly insulated from jihadi threats, but after 9/11, it faced a more global movement, significant local radicalization, and increased strategic importance as a target. This manifested in new foreign fighter flows and terror plots. Then the Syrian civil war and rise of the Islamic State escalated the threat further, as it had in many other countries.

The threat within Australia was shaped by global trends, but also by aspects of Australia's counterterrorism response. One particularly important aspect was the use of travel restrictions, enabled by the difficulty of moving in and out of Australia unnoticed. These travel restrictions proved a valuable counterterrorism tool, making it difficult for Australian jihadis to gain the skills and connections for the types of centrally planned attacks that had caused mass casualties in Europe.

However, travel restrictions do not prevent other types of terror plots, such as ones based on remote instruction or individuals acting at their own initiative. By keeping frustrated jihadis at home, they potentially increase the risk of such plots. This became more apparent after September 2014, when the Islamic State called on its supporters to launch immediate attacks through any available method. Australia was one of many countries in which this call found a receptive audience. Fortunately, the same security crackdown that kept many aspiring Islamic State fighters at home also helped ensure their plots tended to be poorly prepared and closely monitored.

Similar plots can be anticipated in the future, but it should also be kept in mind that the threat can change. Sophisticated plots involving Islamic State returnees and central planning are less feasible in Australia than Europe, given the difficulty of returning discreetly, but cannot be ruled out. In addition, the failure of so many recent plots may lead attackers to turn to newer methods, such as vehicle attacks, as seen in France and Germany. The threat will also be shaped by developments outside Australia, particularly as many Australian Islamic State fighters remain active and could provide instructions to supporters at home. As the Islamic State continues to lose territory in Iraq and Syria, the group is anticipated to escalate its external violence in response, and it has repeatedly shown its ability to adapt and evolve. (63)

Appendix: Jihadi Plots in Australia Since September 2014

This table was compiled from court documents, media reports, and other sources.
VIOLENT INCIDENTS

Date of Event       Event

September 2014     Numan Haider stabbed two Victorian Joint
                   Counter-Terrorism Team officers, then was shot
                   dead.

December 2014      Harun Man Monis used a shotgun to take hostages
                   in Lindt Cafe in Sydney. The 12-hour siege ended
                   with the deaths of two hostages and Monis.

October 2015       Fifteen-year-old Farhad Jabar used a handgun to
                   murder NSW police employee Curtis Cheng at
                   Parramatta police station, and then was fatally
                   shot. Four alleged accomplices have been
                   charged, some of whom were linked to the New
                   South Wales JCTT's Operation Appleby raids.

September 2016     A man allegedly stabbed a member of the public
                   in Sydney suburb of Minto, allegedly to lure
                   polices officers to be stabbed, and is currently
                   facing trial.

ALLEGED OR PROVEN PLOTS

Date of Main Arrests Event

September 2014       Alleged plot to use firearms or knives against
                     targets that are currently unclear, by a man
                     arrested under the Queensland JCTT's Operation
                     Bolton. One suspect was charged and is facing
                     trial.

September 2014       Alleged plot in Sydney to murder a random member
                     of the public with a blade and film it. The
                     plotter was allegedly part of a larger cell and
                     received instructions from Syria-based
                     Australian Islamic State member Mohammad Ali
                     Baryalei. The alleged plotter was arrested under
                     the New South Wales JCTT's Operation Appleby and
                     is facing trial.

Dec-2014             Alleged plot to attack government buildings in
(until March 2016)   Sydney. The suspects were arrested over many
                     months in a series of raids that were also part
                     of the New South Wales JCTT's Operation Appleby.
                     Six alleged plotters were charged and are facing
                     trial.

February 2015        Two Sydney men, Omar al-Kutobi and Mohammad
                     Kiad, formed a plot under instructions from an
                     Islamic State member in the Middle East known
                     only as "Rahman." The plan was to firebomb a
                     Shi'a institution and then attack one or more
                     people with a blade. The plot was foiled by the
                     New South Wales JCTT's Operation Castrum.
                     Al-Kutobi and Kiad pleaded guilty and were
                     sentenced in December 2016.

April 2015           Eighteen-year-old Sevdet Besim plotted to kill
                     one or more police officers in Melbourne during
                     Anzac Day (April 25). He received instructions
                     from two Syria-based Australian Islamic State
                     members and a 14-year-old U.K. child pretending
                     to be a significant Islamic State member. The
                     plan was to run over a police officer with a
                     car, grab his/her gun, and start shooting. The
                     plot was foiled by the Victorian JCTT's
                     Operation Rising. Besim pleaded guilty and was
                     sentenced in October 2016.

May 2015             An unnamed 17-year-old plotted an attack
                     involving IEDs to occur in Melbourne around
                     Mother's Day. He received some instructions from
                     British Islamic State member Junaid Hussain.
                     Targets are unclear, but there was discussion of
                     a police station or train station. The plot was
                     foiled by the Victorian JCTT's Operation Amberd.
                     The plotter pleaded guilty and was sentenced in
                     December 2016.

February 2016        Alleged plot involving a Sydney couple planning
                     a knife attack. The two suspects were arrested
                     under the NSW JCTT's Operation Chillon, and one
                     has been convicted and sentenced for refusing to
                     answer questions. Otherwise, both suspects are
                     facing trial on the terrorism charges.

April 2016           Alleged plot in Sydney to carry out a shooting
                     attack on Anzac Day (again). One suspect was
                     arrested under the New South Wales JCTT's
                     Operation Vianden and is facing trial.

May 2016             Alleged plot to carry out a shooting attack
                     against Parramatta court in Sydney. One suspect
                     was charged under the New South Wales JCTT's
                     Operation Sanadres and is facing trial.

September 2016       Alleged plot by a NSW prisoner, for which
                     details are currently unclear. One suspect was
                     charged under the New South Wales JCTT's
                     Operation Broughton and is facing trial.

October 2016         Alleged plot to carry out a beheading attack in
                     Sydney. Two suspects were charged under a New
                     South Wales JCTT operation and are facing trial.

December 2016        Alleged plot to detonate IEDs at popular
                     locations in Melbourne's central business
                     district. Four suspects were charged under the
                     Victorian JCTT's Operation Kastelhom and are
                     facing trial.


Citations

(1) "Melbourne terrorist plot: Four charged, one In custody over alleged 28 Christmas Day attack plan," ABC News, December 24, 2016.

(2) Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, "Indeed Your Lord is Ever Watchful," 29 September 22, 2014; Kyle Orton, "Islamic State Spokesman Calls For Attacks Against the West," The Syrian Intifada blog, September 22, 2014. 30

(3) The Hon. Tony Abbott MP and Senator, the Hon. George Brandis QC, "National terrorism public alert level raised to high," Office of the Attorney-General for Australia, September 12, 2014.

(4) Cameron Stewart, "Is Syria turning our idealistic youth into hardened 31 jihadis?" Weekend Australian, April 27, 2013.

(5) Cameron Stewart, "The order to kill that triggered Operation Appleby," 32 Australian, September 19, 2016.

(6) Stewart, "The order to kill that triggered Operation Appleby."

(7) See Seamus Hughes and Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens' article in 33 this issue for more on these types of plots. On the concept of virtually planned or remotely controlled plots, see Bridget Moreng, "'ISIS' Virtual 34 Puppeteers: How They Recruit and Train 'Lone Wolves,'" Foreign A ffairs, September 21, 2016; Thomas Joscelyn, "Terror plots in Germany, France were 'remote-controlled' by Islamic State operatives," Long War Journal, September 24, 2016; Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Madeleine Blackman, 35 "ISIL's Virtual Planners: A Critical Terrorist Innovation," War On The Rocks, 36 January 4, 2017; Rukmini Callimachi, "Not 'Lone Wolves' After All: How ISIS Guides World's Terror Plots From Afar," New York Times, February 4, 37 2017.

(8) Jean-Charles Brisard and Kevin Jackson, "The Islamic State's External 38 Operations and the French-Belgian Nexus," CTC Sentinel 9:11 (2016). 39

(9) Europol, "Changes in the Modus Operandi of Islamic State (IS) Revisited," November 2016.

(10) Michael Taarnby, "Recruitment of Islamist Terrorists in Europe: Trends 40 and Perspectives--Research Report by the Danish Ministry of Justice," 41 January 14, 2005; Petter Nesser, Islamist Terrorism in Europe: A History (London: Hurst, 2016). 42

(11) Sally Neighbour, In the Shadow of Swords: On the Trail of Terrorism from Afghanistan to Australia (Sydney: HarperCollins, 2004), p. 301. 43

(12) Martin Chulov, Australian Jihad: The battle against terrorism from within 44 and without (Sydney: MacMillan, 2006), p. 182.

(13) Chulov, pp. 183-185. Some editions of Nida'ul Islam are available at http://pandora.nla.gov.au/tep/31890. 45

(14) "Khazal bailed in Sydney, jailed in Lebanon," Sydney Morning Herald, 46 February 24, 2005; R v Khazaal [2009] NSWSC 1015 (25 September 2009).

(15) Daniel Byman, "Breaking the Bonds between al Qaeda and Its Affiliates," Brookings Institution, August 2012. 47

(16) Andrew Zammit, "Australian foreign fighters: Risks and responses," Lowy Institute for International Policy, April 2015.

(17) R v Roche [2005] WASCA 4 (14 January 2005). 48

(18) Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 49 "Transnational Terrorism: The Threat to Australia," 2004, pp. 66-67.

(19) Petter Nesser, "Ideologies of Jihad in Europe," Terrorism and Political Violence 23:2 (2011), pp. 173-200.

(20) Sally Neighbour, "The Convert," Australian Broadcasting Corporation, February 27, 2006. 50

(21) Regina v Lodhi [2006] NSWSC 691 (23 August 2006).

(22) Sebastian Rotella, "The Man Behind Mumbai," ProPublica, November 13, 51 2010. 52

(23) Marian Wilkinson, "Indonesia's terrorist underground mutates," Sydney Morning Herald, October 8, 2005. 53

(24) Alison Caldwell, "Two terrorist cells worked together to plot attacks," ABC 54 News, September 20, 2011. 55

(25) Benbrika & Ors v The Queen [2010] VSCA 281 (25 October 2010). 56

(26) R v Benbrika & Ors [2009] VSC 21 (3 February 2009); Regina (C'Wealth) v Elomar & Ors [2010] NSWSC 10 (15 February 2010); R v Kent [2009] VSC 375 (2 September 2009); Elomar v R; Hasan v R; Cheikho v R; 57 Cheikho v R; Jamal v R [2014] NSWCCA 303 (12 December 2014). 58

(27) Isabelle Duyvesteyn and Bram Peeters, "Fickle Foreign Fighters? A CrossCase Analysis of Seven Muslim Foreign Fighter Mobilisations (1980-59 2015)," International Centre for Counter Terrorism, October, 2015; Foreign Fighters: An Updated Assessment of the Flow of Foreign Fighters into Syria and Iraq, The Soufan Group, December 2015. 60

(28) Jordan Hayne and Matthew Doran, "Man arrested at Young, NSW for allegedly researching missiles for Islamic State," ABC, March 1, 2017.

(29) James Carleton and Alex McClintock, "The life and crimes of Australian jihadist Khaled Sharrouf," ABC Radio National, August 14, 2014.

(30) Debra Jopson, "Hearing for trio tried in Lebanon for jihadist links," Newcastle Herald, February 7, 2012; Rachel Olding, "Terrifying legacy emerges from success of Operation Pendennis," Sydney Morning Herald, August 24, 2014.

(31) Cameron Houston, "Ezzit Raad funded, fought and recruited for Islamic State," Sydney Morning Herald, September 6, 2016.

(32) On this history, see Shandon Harris-Hogan and Andrew Zammit, "The unseen terrorist connection: exploring jihadist links between Lebanon and Australia," Terrorism and Political Violence 26:3 (2014).

(33) Widyan Fares, "ISIS recruits divided on ethnic lines," Point Magazine, January, 2017.

(34) Tom Minear and Charles Miranda, "IS terrorists threaten Australian revenge attacks in propaganda video," Herald Sun, November 17, 2015; Debra Killalea, "Islamic State urges Muslims to kill Australian 'unbelievers,'" news.com.au, September 23, 2014.

(35) Stewart, "The order to kill that triggered Operation Appleby."

(36) Jennifer Rizzo, "ISIS fighter, wife, killed in airstrike, U.S. says," CNN, May 5, 2016.

(37) Marissa Calligeros, "Islamic State recruiter Neil Prakash calls for attacks in Australia in propaganda video," The Age, April 22, 2015.

(38) The Queen v Besim [2016] VSC 537 (5 September 2016), p. 14.

(39) Justice News, "Ohio Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Plot to Attack U.S. Government Officers," United States Department of Justice, November 23, 2016.

(40) The Queen v Besim [2016] VSC 537 (5 September 2016).

(41) Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop, "Australian terrorist Prakash arrested in Turkey," ABC 7:30, November 26, 2016.

(42) Michael Safi and Paul Karp, "Neil Prakash, most senior Australian fighting with Isis, killed in Iraq airstrike," Guardian, May 5, 2016.

(43) Orton.

(44) Thomas Hegghammer and Petter Nesser, "Assessing the Islamic State's Commitment to Attacking the West" Perspectives on Terrorism 9:4 (2015): pp. 14-30.

(45) The Queen v Besim [2016] VSC 537 (5 September 2016).

(46) Gemma Jones, "Passports revoked in terror tourism crackdown" Daily Telegraph, October 17, 2011; Andrew Zammit, "A table on ASIO's passport confiscation powers," The Murphy Raid blog, last updated October 15, 2016.

(47) On the concept of facilitators, see Timothy Holman, "'Gonna Get Myself Connected': The Role of Facilitation in Foreign Fighter Mobilizations," Perspectives on Terrorism, 10:2 (2016).

(48) R v Mallah [2005] NSWSC 317 (21 April 2005).

(49) Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop, "Milad bin Ahmad-Shah al-Ahmadzai refused bail over alleged kill threat against Commonwealth official," ABC News, May 29, 2013; Sarah Crawford, "Milad Bin Ahmad-Shah Al-Ahmadzai: Sydney man's jihad threat unmasked in court," Daily Telegraph, November 27, 2015.

(50) Cameron Stewart, "Phone call sparked Operation Neath" Australian, August 4, 2009.

(51) R v Fattal & Ors [2011] VSC 681 (16 December 2011).

(52) Greg Sheridan, "Jihadist passport removal to stay," Australian, October 27, 2014.

(53) Zammit, "A table on ASIO's passport confiscation powers."

(54) R v Alqudsi [2016] NSWSC 1227 (1 September 2016).

(55) R v Succarieh [2016] QSC Atkinson J (2 November 2016).

(56) Rachel Olding, "Border Force Counter-Terrorism Unit ramps up efforts to detect potential jihadists trying to leave Australia," Sydney Morning Herald, March 16, 2015.

(57) The Queen v Besim [2016] VSC 537 (5 September 2016).

(58) Tom Allard, "Passports already removed from men caught in terrorism raids," Sydney Morning Herald, September 24, 2014.

(59) Michael Keenan (Minister for Justice and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter Terrorism), Address at the 2016 Counter-Terrorism Financing Summit, August 10, 2016.

(60) "Almost all Australians who returned from Syria and Iraq did so 'before Isis existed,'" Australian Associated Press, February 25, 2015.

(61) Brisard and Jackson.

(62) The Queen v Besim [2016] VSC 537 (5 September 2016); The Queen v M H K [2016] VSC 742 (7 December 2016); R v Al-Kutobi; R v Kiad [2016] NSWSC 1760 (9 December 2016).

(63) Andrew Watkins, "Losing Territory and Lashing Out: The Islamic State and International Terror," CTC Sentinel 9:3 (2016).

Andrew Zammit is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Melbourne S School of Social and Political Sciences. He has worked on terrorism research projects at Monash University and Victoria University, and his research on jihadism in Australia has been widely published. He co-produces the Sub Rosa podcast on security and human rights issues in Australia and Southeast Asia. His website is andrewzammit.org.

(a) Joint Counter-Terrorism Teams (JCTTs) were created after 9/11 to bridge federal-state divisions in counterterrorism. JCTTs operate in each state and include ASIO officers, federal police officers, state police officers, and members of any other relevant agencies (such as the NSW Crime Commission).

(b) The appendix is based on a database maintained by the author.

(c) The authors found there were 12 plots in Europe during this period linked to the Islamic State's external operations wing and another 19 plots involved "online instruction from members of IS's networks." Petter Nesser, Anne Stenersen, and Emilie Oftedal, "Jihadi Terrorism in Europe: The IS-Effect," Perspectives on Terrorism 10:6 (2016): pp. 4, 8.

(d) Khazaal has also been accused of other activities, but these have not been tested in any court. For example, a Central Intelligence Agency report described Khazaal as having trained with al-Qa'ida in Afghanistan in 1998 and acting as its representative in Australia. Sally Neighbour, "The Australian Connections," Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2003.

(e) According to the most recent census in 2011, Australia's Muslim population was around 476,000. About 40 percent were born in Australia, with the next most common countries of birth being (in descending order) Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, India, and Saudi Arabia. The majority are Sunni. See Riaz Hassan, "Australian Muslims: a Demographic, Social and Economic Profile of Muslims in Australia 2015," International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding, University of South Australia, 2015. On the post-9/11 experiences of Muslim Australians, see Raimond Gaita, ed., Essays on Muslims and Multiculturalism (Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2011).

(f) These figures come from ASIO Director-General Duncan Lewis testifying at the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Estimates hearing on October 18, 2016, and February 28, 2017. Transcripts of the hearings are available at parlinfo.aph.gov.au.

(g) The author agrees with this assessment. See Andrew Zammit, "In defence of ASIO's passport powers," The Strategist blog, December 4, 2014.

Caption: Armed police during the hostage siege at a cafe in Sydney, Australia, on December 15,2014 (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)
COPYRIGHT 2017 Combating Terrorism Center
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2017 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Zammit, Andrew
Publication:CTC Sentinel
Date:Mar 1, 2017
Words:6502
Previous Article:German foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq: the updated data and its implications.
Next Article:The Taliban stones commission and the insurgent windfall from illegal mining.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |