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Australia’s terror threat remains probable after Manchester attack

In the aftermath of the devastating Manchester terror attack this month, governments around the world are assessing their terrorism alert levels.

Tighter security measures 

On 23 May, the day after the ISIS-inspired Manchester bombing that killed 22 innocent people and injured many more, United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May raised the terror threat level for her country from Severe to Critical, the highest threat level, meaning a further attack may be imminent. On 27 May, the UK threat was subsequently revised back to Severe, meaning an attack is still likely.

In Australia, the threat level remains at Probable, meaning an attack is likely. Since the national security threat was first increased to this level in September 2014, there have been four domestic attacks and ten foiled attacks on Australian soil by police and security agencies.

Much needed funding injection

The 2017 federal budget announcement revealed a $400 million funding package over four years for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to improve the capabilities of personnel and to support counter terrorism operations.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan told media the AFP funding was a necessary step to ensure the police had all the resources required to adequately protect the public.

He said, "[it is]…a very significant investment, the largest single investment in the past decade and it goes over and above what we have already done to ensure the AFP has the resources that it needs to do its job.”

The funding package is historically the largest the AFP have received in the last decade. 

“The conflict in Syria and Iraq has shaped a generation of extremists in Australia who will present a security risk for at least the coming decade.”

– ASIO

ASIO and their offshore counterparts ASIS will also receive funding from the $400 million announced as part of the budget, however the details on what the funding will be spent on was not disclosed due to national security reasons.

In their 2017 budget statement ASIO said it can no longer guarantee that harm will not occur as it shifts its focus on terrorist activity in what it called a “steadily worsening overall security and operational environment.”

Coming home 

The threat comes from majority Australian foreign fighters looking to return to Australia and individuals inspired by ISIS.

ASIO said, “The conflict in Syria and Iraq has shaped a generation of extremists in Australia who will present a security risk for at least the coming decade.”

“Foreign fighters returning or forcibly dispersed from Syria and Iraq will also present a longer-term risk to Australians and Australian interests at home, in our immediate region and further abroad,” said ASIO.

Since the Mosul offensive, over 4000km in territory has been reclaimed and liberated from ISIS. 

The number of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria has also seen a drop, with numbers at their lowest levels in more than two and a half years.

Earlier this month a South Australian Joint Counter Terrorism Team charged a 22‑year‑old South Australian woman with a terrorism offence. The woman was charged with membership of ISIS, however police said there was no known ongoing threat to the community.

The security and intelligence agency also noted that case work had increased dramatically involving ‘higher levels of threat’ and violent extremists were targeting military personnel, law enforcement, security personnel and civilians for attack.

Since 12 September 2014, when the national terrorism threat level was raised, 63 people have been charged as a result of 28 counter‑terrorism operations around Australia.  

The Point

In the aftermath of the devastating Manchester terror attack this month, governments around the world are assessing their terrorism alert levels.

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