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Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Transnational Terrorism: The Threat to Australia

Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2004

ISBN 1 920959 04 1

Chapter 7


The Australian Government is firmly committed to the global campaign against terrorism. This is in Australia's national interest. We made the choice to join our international partners in taking the fight to the terrorists to protect our country, our people, our way of life, our values and our freedom. This is not an easy task, nor one that will be over quickly. But it is our only option for peace and security. So we will support this campaign with vigour and determination for as long as it takes.

Australia will not be intimidated by terrorists. We will not allow terrorists to determine our allies or what we stand for as a nation. And we will not allow our policies to be dictated by the threat of terrorism. To do so would be morally bankrupt and unrealistic.

The terrorist threat we are now facing will only be defeated by a global response. Since the 11 September 2001 attacks, the global coalition against terrorism, comprising Muslim and non-Muslim countries alike, has achieved some major successes against Al Qaida, its affiliates and their supporters.

  • In Afghanistan the repressive Taliban regime has been removed from power, Al Qaida's terrorist bases destroyed and its operations disrupted.
  • Three-quarters of Al Qaida's senior leadership has been captured or killed.
  • Around 3400 terrorist operatives and associates have been detained or killed in over 100 countries.
  • Entire Al Qaida cells have been dismantled around the world and plots disrupted.
  • Around $285 million in terrorist assets have been frozen.
  • In our region, over 300 Jemaah Islamiyah suspects have been detained.
  • Most of those responsible for the Bali bombings have been captured and convicted.

These successes, combined with more effective counter-terrorism measures, have made it more difficult for terrorists to conduct large-scale September 11-type attacks. But much remains to be done. Despite the attrition they have suffered, terrorist networks such as Jemaah Islamiyah are flexible and resourceful. They have a capacity to regenerate. They also retain the capability and desire to conduct more attacks, including, in the case of some groups, mass casualty attacks.

The need for international cooperation and solidarity

No country can combat the threat from transnational terrorism on its own. Effective action against terrorism requires a coordinated international response based on close and sustained international cooperation. In the face of terrorist threats, the security of Australians and Australia's interests depends to a significant degree on a collective response.

A vigorous, proactive approach to fighting transnational terrorism is also essential. The pursuit of extremist groups that carry out terrorist attacks must be single-minded and

unrelenting. They must be kept on the run and denied safe haven. Counter-terrorism strategies must be practical and dynamic and be able to react to the evolving nature of the terrorist threat.

The international coalition against terrorism must demonstrate unshakeable resolve in confronting the terrorists. The Madrid bombings and especially Bin Laden's response to them - the offer of a truce to European countries on the condition that they withdraw their forces from 'Muslim lands' within three months - represented an attempt by Al Qaida to sow division among its opponents. This would be a setback for our coalition against terrorism.

The costs of buckling in the face of this new form of terror would be high. It would validate terrorist violence and embolden the terrorists, giving them cause to think that they can influence government policy and intimidate electorates in ways that serve their interests. To retreat would also ignore the fact that the terrorists are not interested in negotiation; a concession would simply lead to another demand and more violence. The only option is to stand firm.

Australia's international strategy for fighting terrorism

The government's international counter-terrorism strategy is comprehensive. It aims to deliver concrete results against the terrorists through effective operational-level cooperation; to help other countries develop and strengthen their capabilities to fight terrorism; and to build political will among governments to combat terrorism over the longer term. To achieve these objectives, Australia is taking action at a global and regional level and on a number of fronts.

Our international counter-terrorism strategy covers both the immediate terrorist threat and the need to reduce that threat over the longer term. It is sustained by and complements Australia's domestic counter-terrorism effort. Protecting ourselves against terrorism is a fundamental human right - the right to life and human security. By preserving a society in which fundamental human rights and freedoms can be exercised, our counter-terrorism strategy enhances human rights. Our democratic traditions and processes, which preserve our fundamental human rights, are our greatest ally and our greatest strength in prosecuting the campaign against terrorism.

The support and cooperation of Australia's partners and allies is central to the implementation of our international counter-terrorism strategy and our ability to protect ourselves from terrorist attacks. Long-standing cooperation between Australian agencies and their overseas counterparts on transnational issues, such as people-smuggling, drugs, extradition and mutual legal assistance, weapons proliferation and money laundering, have provided a solid foundation for joint action to combat terrorism. But the government has also put in place new international arrangements to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation and give it a sharper focus.

Australia's alliance with the United States is a key plank of our international counter-terrorism strategy. It is fundamental to our security and that of the Asia - Pacific region. The United States is the global leader in the fight against international terrorism. No other country has the global reach required, or the resources, to help other countries improve their own capabilities to deal with terrorism.

This alliance involves two-way commitment. The United States should not be left to bear the burden in the campaign against terror. Australia has contributed in a wide range of ways, including through military action, law enforcement and intelligence on terrorism developments in our immediate region. We are also working closely with the United States on ways to improve the protection of the critical infrastructure on which we all rely and take for granted in our day-to-day lives.

The United States provides essential military, intelligence, law enforcement and economic resources to the fight against terrorism that Australia can draw upon to protect its interests. Our access to these resources, especially the United States' vast intelligence assets, helps us monitor terrorist threats to Australia's security and put in place appropriate counter- measures. Our capacity to confront transnational terrorist groups, such as Al Qaida, Jemaah Islamiyah and Lashkar e-Tayyiba, would be significantly diminished without access to these resources.

Our close association with the United States is underpinned by shared values. The government's invocation of the ANZUS Treaty for the first time immediately following the September 11 attacks was a demonstration of our commitment to defend these common values in the face of the terrorist threat.

Strengthening links with our regional partners, especially in South-East Asia but also in the Pacific, is a key element of our international counter-terrorism strategy. We share a growing appreciation of the nature of the terrorist threat and how it affects our mutual interests, as well as the measures needed to combat it. Our relationship with regional countries will continue to provide the foundation for strong cooperation and practical support to help develop counter-terrorism capabilities.

Building counter-terrorism ties with countries in the Middle East, South Asia and Europe is also important. The security environment in these regions, which affects Australia's interests, combined with cross-regional links between terrorist groups has driven stronger cooperation. Representation and liaison arrangements have been expanded to provide for increased exchange of information and intelligence on terrorism issues.

Intelligence has taken on even greater significance in the fight against terrorism. It is at the frontline of our defence and one of the best ways we can protect ourselves from terrorist attack. It is a key component of our international security alliances and partnerships, especially those with the United States and the United Kingdom. The government has boosted funding for Australia's intelligence and security agencies to improve their intelligence gathering capabilities. At the same time, our agencies will continue to strengthen links with

their overseas partners. This will both increase the flow of intelligence on extremist groups that may threaten Australian interests and contribute to the broader international campaign against terrorism.

Combating terrorism requires a larger number of government agencies and a wider range of functions than have normally been associated with national security. Our police, intelligence, security, customs, defence force, immigration and transport agencies, as well as our legal, development cooperation and financial authorities all play important roles in supporting our international counter-terrorism effort. Coordinating the activities of these agencies is essential to achieving a whole-of-government approach to fighting terrorism.

Diplomacy also plays a central role. Drawing on its overseas network, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been instrumental in forging stronger ties with regional countries to combat terrorism. It has also been active in encouraging a resolute counter- terrorism response at the regional and global levels and in the development and implementation of Australia's international counter-terrorism strategies.

Australia's Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism is a focus for our international advocacy and engagement as we seek to expand the links operational agencies have with their partner countries. These activities, and our contributions to regional capacity-building, are coordinated through a new, inter-agency mechanism - the International Counter-Terrorism Coordination Group.

Responding as a global player

At the hard edge of Australia's whole-of-government contribution to the global campaign against terror is the use of military force. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has been deployed twice since September 11 in major military operations against terrorism. First in Afghanistan, where we helped eliminate a safe haven for Al Qaida, and presently in Iraq, where international terrorists are among those fighting coalition forces and the Iraqi people over the latter's right to determine their own future.

Military intervention in Afghanistan

Australia contributed to the defeat of the Taliban regime, which provided sanctuary for Al Qaida in Afghanistan. ADF elements supported the US-led international coalition in the destruction of Al Qaida's main terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, stripping the group of its principal base. The Australian Army operated in Afghanistan for almost a year performing a range of missions. Royal Australian Air Force and Navy personnel provided vital support to the coalition throughout their deployment to the region. The government's diplomatic network, maintained by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, aided these deployments.

Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan
Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan (Photo: Defence)

The fight against terrorism in Iraq

Regardless of past differences about dealing with Saddam Hussein's defiance of the United Nations Security Council, it is clear that Iraq presents the international community with a crucial contest of will in the campaign against terrorism. Al Qaida and other international terrorist groups have made it their battlefield. Foreign terrorists have joined Iraqi insurgents in launching violent attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces and civilians. The motivations of these opposition elements may differ but their objective is clear: through the use of violence and intimidation, to defeat Iraqi and international efforts to achieve a successful transition to stability and more representative government in Iraq.

A terrorist-inspired breakdown in civil order in Iraq would have serious security implications, both globally and for Australia. It would undermine stability in the Middle East and likely give rise to serious humanitarian problems. It would give the terrorists an operational base and a propaganda advantage, reinforcing their determination to purge Western influence from the Muslim world. It would embolden terrorists everywhere. It would damage the cause of the coalition of countries and organisations committed to peace-building. And above all, it would deny the Iraqi people peace, freedom and economic development.

The eradication of terrorist activity in Iraq would, conversely, be a major win for the global war on terrorism. It would undermine the terrorist cause by weakening the appeal of extremism and making terrorist recruitment more difficult. It would encourage those governments that are confronting terrorism in their own countries and boost broader anti-terrorism efforts.

It is in Australia's national interest to remain engaged in supporting international efforts to restore stability in Iraq and assist with its rehabilitation. The government is prepared to keep Australian forces in Iraq until their tasks are complete as part of the Multinational Force authorised by UNSCR 1546 and earlier UN Security Council resolutions. A stable Iraq founded on representative government and processes would enhance global security.

Our engagement in Iraq is a clear demonstration of our support for the major international effort now under way to help the Iraqi people achieve freedom, security and prosperity. It also demonstrates Australia's solidarity with our allies - not only the United States and the United Kingdom but also our partners in the Asia - Pacific region, such as Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Singapore, which are valued members of the coalition.

Multilateral forums and responses

The United Nations (UN) has played an important galvanising role in global efforts to combat international terrorism. Post September 11, the UN created sweeping international obligations on countries to create legislation and machinery to deal with terrorism. It focused on practical actions, including through broad sanctions targeting Al Qaida and the Taliban. UN Security Council Resolution 1373, adopted on 28 September 2001, obliged all member states to take specific actions to combat terrorism, including denying safe haven to terrorists and blocking terrorist finances. This resolution built on Security Council Resolution 1267 which was adopted in October 1999. Resolution 1267 requires UN members to freeze the assets of individuals and entities associated with the Taliban and Al Qaida and established a consolidated list for this purpose. Other targets of UN anti-terrorism sanctions include economic resources, prohibitions on arms transfers and restrictions on travel.

The UN has helped create a climate and framework for enhanced bilateral, regional and global cooperation on counter-terrorism. Its norm and standard setting has helped lay the groundwork for the elaboration of more specific obligations - such as stricter controls on chemical, biological and nuclear weapons-related materials, equipment and technology - that have been mandated by the UN Security Council. The specific anti-terrorism measures taken by the UN since September 11 complement the obligations contained in a series of UN multilateral conventions related to terrorism.

The implementation of the various anti-terrorism obligations and standards created by the UN is overseen by the UN itself and a range of specialised UN bodies that have dealt with terrorism directly or indirectly. These include the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

Australia strongly supports the work of the UN in fighting terrorism. In conjunction with our partners and allies, we have used the UN effectively to build international support and strengthen the international legal framework to counter the threat from international terrorism. Key Security Council resolutions covering such areas as the freezing of terrorist assets, the listing of terrorist organisations, and controls on the proliferation of CBRN capabilities, represent important alliance achievements. They are key parts of our armoury in the fight against terrorism.

We support the work of the UN's Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) established under resolution 1373. The implementation of 1373 globally, however, including in the Asia - Pacific region, has been uneven. Many states still have relatively weak counter-terrorism capabilities. Recent steps to strengthen the capacity of the CTC to enable it to focus more sharply on these countries should result in some improvement. Australia has supported a number of counter-terrorism activities in our region that help countries meet their 1373 obligations. Australia was instrumental in having Jemaah Islamiyah listed by the UN as a terrorist organisation under Security Council Resolution 1267. The listing obliges all UN members to freeze Jemaah Islamiyah's assets and restrict the movement of its members. Over 20 Jemaah Islamiyah members have also been listed by name with the UN and the government has listed these individuals under Australian law.

We support the continued listing of Al Qaida and Taliban-related entities and individuals with the Security Council's 1267 Sanctions Committee. The Committee's consolidated list represents an important tool in the application of international sanctions and we encourage countries to use it to crack down on terrorist groups.

Australia is a party to 11 of the 12 UN anti-terrorism conventions and the government is considering becoming a party to the remaining one as a matter of priority. We continue to urge countries in our region to ratify or accede to these conventions. We support activities to implement and use them to raise international standards in this field. We have also played a leading role over several years to guide negotiations in the UN on a Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism, demonstrating our willingness to engage with others in the search for common standards and jointly agreed obligations.

Despite its achievements, the UN faces some major challenges in its continuing quest to foster a global response to international terrorism. A number of countries, especially developing countries, are finding it difficult to meet their UN anti-terrorism obligations. Terrorism sanctions instruments are not keeping pace with the growth of autonomous terrorist groups. And, compared to the immediate aftermath of September 11, maintaining a global sense of urgency on terrorism will not be easy. The UN will, however, continue to be important in forging a united front against terrorism.

Blocking the flow of funds to terrorist organisations is a key element in the global campaign against terrorism. It is also becoming increasingly difficult as low-budget terrorism and new and innovative forms of fundraising make terrorism a moving target. Work is being done to make charities - a source of terrorist funding - more accountable, but there are indications that terrorist funds are now coming from commercial sources, drug trafficking and kidnapping.

Australia plays an active part in international bodies engaged in anti-terrorist financing work, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Through the IMF Training Institute in Singapore, we are helping train prosecutors, judges and officials from financial intelligence units from the Asia - Pacific region who have a responsibility for implementing anti-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering laws. We are also helping countries comply with the FATF's global standards relating to anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing, through bilateral capacity-building assistance and participation in mutual evaluation programs.

Since the September 11 attacks and the Madrid train bombings, transport security has taken on renewed importance. Within ICAO and the IMO, Australia has been a firm advocate of the adoption of stronger transport security practices and standards. Australia is also contributing to work being undertaken in the World Customs Organisation on securing the movement of goods across borders.

Australia's role as a global player in the campaign against terrorism is reflected in our participation in meetings of the G8 Counter-Terrorism Action Group (CTAG) established in 2003. CTAG is a useful forum for exchanging information between the world's major donor countries on the counter-terrorism capacity-building activities they are engaged in. We use CTAG to highlight the particular counter-terrorism needs and vulnerabilities of countries in our region.

Weapons of mass destruction

Australia has for many years been a strong proponent of measures to limit the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Good progress has been made in checking the transfer of components and know-how. Terrorist interest in acquiring WMD, particularly chemical, biological and radiological capabilities, has reinforced the need for stronger measures to be taken. The government supported the UN Security Council's recent adoption of resolution 1540 requiring states to criminalise the proliferation of WMD, enact strict export controls and secure sensitive materials. The new resolution will help lay the foundation for greater attention to practical counter-proliferation measures.

(Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

Recent proliferation cases have demonstrated the critical importance of effective domestic measures, including export controls, in preventing the misuse of sensitive materials and technology. Export controls are a crucial complement to multilateral arms control arrangements. The Australia Group, established and chaired by Australia, works to control the export of chemical and biological material that could be used in weapons. Under the auspices of the group, we are conducting targeted outreach activities in the Asia - Pacific region. The group is also promoting awareness among manufacturers of the need to monitor suspicious domestic activities as well as export orders.

Export controls are not foolproof against increasingly sophisticated procurement networks. To close loopholes exploited by proliferators, Australia gives high priority to its participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). The PSI is intended as a practical means of impeding illicit WMD-related trade. It reinforces the existing framework of domestic and international laws and multilateral arms control and non-proliferation arrangements. Australia is working with partners to improve interdiction capabilities and expand support for the PSI. As part of this the Australian Defence Force coordinated a series of multinational exercises in 2003.

Hazmat Protective Suits (Photo: Getty Images)

Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS)

Terrorist possession of MANPADS is an increasing concern in the light of the grave threat that such weapons pose to public security and civil aviation. The attack on an Israeli civilian aircraft in Kenya in November 2002 underscores the reality of that threat. Over the past 30 years, MANPADS attacks on civilian aircraft have claimed 28 aircraft and some 700 casualties. Terrorists will continue to find MANPADS attractive - they are readily available and they make a political and economic impact.

Australia strongly supports ongoing international efforts to control the production and proliferation of MANPADS. In the hands of terrorists, these weapons could cause significant harm to key industries in the Asia - Pacific, especially tourism. The government supports the comprehensive five-point US initiative to counter the illicit trade in MANPADS endorsed by the G8 in 2003. We also support the development by the Asia - Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum of a code of conduct on MANPADS control. This builds on the commitment APEC leaders made in 2003 to strengthen efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring MANPADS, including through export controls and securing stockpiles. To further stiffen international commitment to measures to prevent the illicit trade in MANPADS, we are taking the lead on a UN resolution focused on practical measures to prevent non-state actors from acquiring MANPADS.

Australia's regional commitment

Australia and our partners in South-East Asia and the Pacific have a shared interest in the region's successful management of the terrorist threat. Our interests in the region are extensive. It is here we can make our most significant contribution to the global campaign against terrorism.

The government attaches a high priority to strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation with our regional partners. It is one of our best means of protection. Cooperation is being pursued bilaterally as well as through regional bodies. These two avenues of cooperation are intended to complement each other. Our objective is to achieve concrete, practical results that improve the overall security of the region and protect Australian interests in the process. The focus of cooperation is on meeting immediate operational requirements and helping to develop the counter-terrorism capabilities of countries in the region over the longer term. Progress in the regional campaign against terrorism has been facilitated through such cooperative arrangements with the support of regional governments. Detecting and capturing terrorists and disrupting terrorist plots remains a priority, but creating an environment that deprives terrorists of the space to operate and build networks is also important.

The government's development cooperation program is providing assistance to our regional partners to develop their counter-terrorism capabilities. This is being done through funding capacity-building activities by Australian agencies as well as under regional initiatives.

Australia's Bilateral Counter-Terrorism Arrangements [ PDF ]

Building and maintaining political commitment among regional countries is essential to the region's campaign against terrorism. Collectively, we must be able to match the patience and resolve of the terrorists. This will require sustained commitment, and a readiness among regional countries to work together, over many years. These realities lie at the heart of Australia's purposeful engagement with its neighbours on terrorism.

Bilateral cooperation

A network of bilateral counter-terrorism arrangements smoothes the path for practical cooperation between Australian agencies and their regional partners. Arrangements have been concluded with Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and East Timor. These arrangements help support increasingly productive intelligence and security relationships as well as measures to strengthen counter-terrorism capabilities.

A number of Australian Government agencies have also concluded cooperative arrangements directly with their counterparts. Our long-standing security, intelligence and defence links with Singapore have also been engaged in responding to the new terrorist threat.

Mr Oplehe and MrDowner The Foreign Secretary of the Philippines, Mr Ople, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Downer, sign a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation to combat international terrorism, 4 March 2003

(Photo: AUSPIC)


Our intelligence systems offer the best chance of detecting terrorist activity and allowing us to take steps to prevent an attack. Exchanging information and intelligence assessments with our partners can help identify and monitor terrorists, provide warning and disrupt their activities. From a law enforcement perspective, good intelligence is an integral part of conducting effective terrorism-related investigations. The activities of Australia's intelligence and security agencies have helped thwart terrorist attacks and, as the Bali bombings investigation demonstrated, uncovered terrorist links and associations that were previously unknown.

Since September 11, Australian intelligence and security agencies have sharpened their focus on terrorism. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) have received significant new resources and have deepened existing links and forged new relationships in the region. This has led to a greater pooling of resources and a dramatic increase in the sharing of information. We are also providing counter-terrorism intelligence training and advice to countries in the Pacific.

The Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) has increased counter-terrorism analytical resources while the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) has enhanced its capability to collect signals intelligence against terrorists. The Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO) also maintains a counter-terrorism capability.

Law enforcement

Law enforcement agencies are uniquely placed to contribute to the disruption of terrorist activities. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is Australia's lead international law enforcement agency and has a critical role in implementing our regional counter-terrorism strategy. Since September 11, the government has boosted the AFP's capacity to combat terrorism.

In February 2004, the government announced the formation of an AFP International Deployment Group to strengthen Australia's involvement in peace-keeping operations, missions to restore law and order, and the delivery of capacity-building initiatives in the region.

The AFP has worked hard over a number of years to establish solid working relationships with regional police services. This groundwork paid dividends in the successful joint investigation into the Bali bombings. The investigation was underpinned by our bilateral counter-terrorism arrangement with Indonesia signed in February 2002, and an arrangement between the AFP and the Indonesian National Police, signed in June 2002. The AFP also helped the Philippines police investigate a series of terrorist bombings in the southern Philippines in 2003. And AFP officers were deployed to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Spain in response to terrorist attacks in those countries.

The AFP is a major contributor to the development of counter-terrorism law enforcement capabilities in the region. It takes a practical, hands-on approach based on close collaboration with the host authorities. The emphasis is on building local capacity so that local police are better equipped to anticipate and respond to terrorist threats and situations.

AFP forensics experts

AFP forensics experts assist the Indonesian police with their investigations at the Bali bomb site

(Photo: Australian Federal Police)

Through its Law Enforcement Cooperation Program (LECP), the AFP delivers a range of capacity-building programs to partner law enforcement agencies in Asia and the Pacific. These include specific counter-terrorism programs as well as programs designed to strengthen skills in conducting transnational crime investigations that are also relevant to terrorism investigations. Key areas for attention and assistance include crime scene management, forensic investigation, and the collection of intelligence for law enforcement purposes. The AFP is helping a range of countries establish Transnational Crime Centres that strengthen their ability to investigate transnational crimes, including terrorism.

The AFP is providing targeted counter-terrorism assistance to police services in Indonesia and the Philippines as part of broader Australian assistance packages with these two countries. A key initiative with Indonesia is the establishment of a Transnational Crime Coordination Centre. In another major new initiative, Australia and Indonesia recently agreed to establish the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC).

Malaysia has for many years been a strong and reliable partner of the AFP in fighting transnational crime, with a long record of participation in AFP training and capacity-building programs.


On 5 February 2004, Australia and Indonesia announced a joint initiative to establish the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC). The establishment of JCLEC follows on from the successful collaboration between the Australian Federal Police and the Indonesian National Police in investigating the Bali and JW Marriott Hotel bombings.

JCLEC's key objective is to enhance the operational expertise of regional law enforcement agencies in dealing with transnational crime. Its focus is on strengthening regional cooperation and skills in combating terrorism. It will be responsible both for regional capacity-building and operational support.

Training activities run by the Centre will cover a wide range of key counter-terrorism skills. These include the tracking and interception of terrorists, forensics, crime scene investigation, financial investigations, threat assessments, criminal prosecution and counter-terrorism legislative drafting skills.

Australia is contributing over $36 million to support the establishment and running of the Centre. The money will help meet the costs of physical infrastructure, technical equipment, training costs and the provision of operational and training experts from the AFP and other Australian agencies.

A number of other countries have expressed interest in supporting the Centre as well as participating in its activities.

JCLEC was opened formally on 3 July 2004 and is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year. It is headed by a senior Indonesian police officer and will have a staff of around 20.

Border management

It is not possible to stop members of international terrorist groups from moving around, but effective border protection measures can make it harder for them to do so. The government has taken steps to prevent terrorists and terrorist materials from entering Australia. It is in our interests to help our regional partners do the same.

Australia is assisting regional countries develop and strengthen their border control systems through a number of means. Our immigration authorities are providing document fraud laboratories and associated training as well as immigration-related intelligence training. They are helping draft immigration laws and put travel document examination standards in place. Additional immigration staff have been posted overseas to support these programs. They are also undertaking security-related operational activities, such as examining travel documents and exchanging intelligence with local officials.

Peter Coyne

Australian Immigration officer, Peter Coyne, training airport officers in Manila

(Photo: DIMIA)

An independent assessment of the border management and control systems of countries in the Asia - Pacific region will be undertaken in 2004 - 05. A range of strategic, tactical and operational issues will be examined. The aim is to identify the additional requirements for more secure border management.

A key border protection initiative Australia is pursuing is the Advance Passenger Information (API) system. Australia is encouraging regional countries to implement this system. API systems tighten border security by providing destination countries with advance information on passengers travelling to their country. Law enforcement and security agencies use API data to provide a higher level of security screening before passengers reach the border. A number of regional countries have announced that they will implement API systems over the next two years, but coverage in the region is incomplete.

Australia's efforts to help regional countries strengthen border management systems build on and complement the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime. Co-chaired by Australia and Indonesia, the Bali Process has contributed to enhanced regional cooperation on border control issues and visa systems. The movement of harmful goods is also a concern. Cargo containers have been identified as a means by which terrorists might seek to deliver weapons. Australian Customs is helping secure the international supply chain for goods by helping develop systems that identify high-risk items and facilitate the electronic reporting of cargo between customs agencies. Effective customs reporting systems are an integral part of strong border controls.

Australian Customs is also helping regional customs administrations install efficient reporting systems and comply with the IMO's International Ship and Port Security Code as well as implement model standards. In addition, it is providing training in customs intelligence, risk management and cargo profiling.


In October 2002, the Australian Government committed $10 million over four years to help Indonesia build its counter-terrorism capacity. This is distinct from the additional funding for the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation ($36.8 million) announced in February 2004. Assistance is being provided in three broad areas.

Police - The Australian Federal Police is helping to enhance the counter- terrorism skills of the Indonesian police through programs in crisis management and intelligence officer and analyst training. Support for the establishment of a Transnational Crime Coordination Centre has also been provided and a criminal information management system is being developed.

Anti-terrorist financing - Australian assistance to strengthen Indonesia's anti-terrorist financing capabilities includes general capacity-building and the drafting of legislation to comply with international standards. A range of assistance is being provided to Indonesia's Financial Intelligence Unit, PPATK, including training to identify and process suspicious financial transactions, the creation of a financial intelligence database, and the development of international exchange procedures and protocols.

Travel security - Australian customs, transport and immigration agencies are implementing programs with their Indonesian counterparts aimed at strengthening port and cargo security, upgrading physical security at Denpasar and Jakarta international airports, and introducing new border management control systems at key airports.

Transport security

The Madrid train bombings refocused the world's attention on the exposure of transport systems to transnational terrorist attack. Commercial aircraft are still a preferred target for terrorists seeking a high death toll. Australia and other countries in the Asia - Pacific region have a major stake in strengthening regional transport security regimes. We are concerned about the risk to our interests from the potential exploitation by terrorists of vulnerabilities in aviation and maritime security overseas.

Australian transport authorities are working with regional governments to provide the basic building blocks of strong transport security regimes. These include measures to implement international security standards, developing legal frameworks, strengthening governance structures and compliance systems, and providing training. Planned assistance will aim to improve local skills in areas such as passenger and cargo screening, access control management and security planning.

A high-level transport delegation recently visited South-East Asia as part of Australia's initiative to work with our regional partners to enhance aviation and maritime security for passenger travel and cargo movements. We will help Indonesia to meet international aviation security standards at Denpasar and Jakarta airports, and the Philippines to meet comparable maritime standards at selected ports. To bolster our regional security coverage, we will appoint transport security officers to Jakarta and Manila.

The Air Security Officer (ASO) program, which introduced 'air marshals' on domestic flights, has been extended to international flights. Negotiations with a range of countries are in train to further expand the program. The ASO program complements a number of important initiatives taken by the government to enhance aviation security arrangements, both on aircraft and at airports.

In the Pacific, Australia is helping Pacific island countries develop and implement port security plans so they can meet IMO standards that form part of a new global security regime for international shipping. We will be providing one aviation and one maritime security expert to work with the Papua New Guinea transport authorities to undertake risk assessments and help develop security plans.


In July 2003, the Australian Government announced a $5 million package over three years to help key Philippine government agencies build their counter-terrorism capacities.

Police - Assistance is being provided by the AFP to the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime and the National Bureau of Investigation to build their strategic and operational counter-terrorism capabilities. In April 2004, a $3.65 million law enforcement counter-terrorism capacity-building project was launched.

Border control - The Philippine Bureau of Immigration is receiving assistance to enhance its ability to detect fraudulent documents. Australia has provided two document laboratories and our immigration authorities are providing ongoing training in the use of the equipment.

Port security - A national framework for port security, including the development and implementation of port security plans, is being developed by the Philippines. An Australian $1.3 million port security capacity-building project provides technical assistance and training to help the Philippines strengthen port security arrangements and comply with IMO security requirements.

Regional cooperation - Australia supported a series of sub-regional security cooperation meetings held in 2003 and 2004 aimed at strengthening regional cooperation in counter-terrorism initiatives. The meetings involved customs, immigration, quarantine and security officials from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Anti-terrorist financing

Terrorist groups need money to operate, so disrupting the flow of funds to terrorists is a priority. The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has a vital role in supporting global efforts to identify and halt the financing of terrorist-related activities. It has arrangements to exchange information with 27 counterpart financial intelligence units (FIU).

AUSTRAC is assisting countries in South-East Asia strengthen their FIUs. It is helping regional FIUs build collective skills and knowledge of terrorist financing and detect patterns of financial transactions that may be forms of terrorist financing. It is also helping the FIUs develop the information technology capability to capture, store and analyse financial information that may be related to terrorist financing. AUSTRAC provided technical support for the establishment of Indonesia's FIU, which is now fully operational.

AUSTRAC officials

AUSTRAC Director, Neil Jensen (right), discussing financial intelligence issues with officials from South Korea's Financial Intelligence Unit in Seoul, May 2003 (Photo: AUSTRAC)


The Australian Defence Force (ADF) plays a valuable role in supporting Australia's regional counter-terrorism effort. Reflecting the nature of transnational terrorism, its activities are integrated into our whole-of-government response and are most effective when used in supporting a broad-based response. The ADF's regional links, together with increased intelligence resources, contribute to our knowledge of the regional security environment, including the terrorist threat to Australian interests.

Defence maintains strong and broad-based bilateral relationships with countries in the region. These relationships are complemented by participation in regional arrangements, such as the Five Power Defence Arrangements involving Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Singapore and Malaysia.

Australia's defence program of counter-terrorism engagement with our regional partners includes combined counter-hijack and hostage recovery exercises, the maintenance of close intelligence contacts and the provision of intelligence training. It also includes a focus on improving regional countries' national coordination between defence and other agencies in the event of an incident, and on improving the standard of consequence management responses. In the aftermath of the Bali bombings, the ADF demonstrated its regional consequence management capabilities in support of humanitarian operations.

The ADF Incident Response Regiment is assisting chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) response capacity-building efforts in the region. Regular CBRN exercises have been held with regional neighbours to develop cooperative plans should a CBRN incident occur.

The ADF's newly established Special Operations Command provides a focus for Defence cooperation with regional and other counter-terrorism forces. Elements of the ADF Special Operations Command participated in a successful counter-terrorism exercise in the South- West Pacific in September 2003. A similar exercise was held in South-East Asia in 2004. Special Operations Command is also establishing Special Forces Liaison Officers in the United States Special Operations Command and is preparing to host an Australian-led multilateral gathering of senior regional counter-terrorism personnel.

Emergency management

Managing the consequences of a terrorist attack involving Australians overseas is an integral part of Australia's international counter-terrorism strategy. As the Bali bombings demonstrated, inflicting maximum casualties is a deliberate tactic of the terrorists. Limiting the damage from an attack and helping the victims and the broader community recover from it as quickly as possible are a priority.

Australia is helping countries in the region meet this challenge in a number of ways. Emergency Management Australia (EMA) is establishing links with its regional counterparts to assess emergency response capabilities, identify needs and formulate strategies for practical cooperation in the event of a terrorist attack. The ADF is contributing to the development of response capacities through specialised exercises with regional partners.

Several Australian state and territory governments have formed strategic partnerships with Pacific island countries, including Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, to improve their response capabilities. The focus of this assistance has been on fire fighting and ambulance equipment and training. These bilateral measures complement consequence management initiatives being pursued through regional bodies.

Cooperation with other countries

Australia has important bilateral counter-terrorism relationships with countries from outside the region. The most important of these is with the United States. In addition to extensive information and intelligence exchange, we work closely with the United States on counter- terrorism capacity-building activities in the region. Similarly, we are strengthening our counter-terrorism engagement with other donors with an interest in regional security, including Japan, United Kingdom and the European Union. New Zealand is a valuable partner in supporting counter-terrorism activities in the Pacific islands.

Perspectives on the terrorist threat in the Asia - Pacific region were exchanged at a meeting of counter-terrorism ambassadors from Australia, the United States and Japan in Canberra in November 2003. The three countries also discussed how they could best work together to combat terrorism in the region.

Regional cooperation

Regional organisations and bodies have an important role to play in combating terrorism. They develop common policy responses to the problem, act as a forum for the exchange of information and ideas, coordinate regional programs, and help develop the political will and momentum for action.

The government is active in encouraging a strong counter-terrorism response at a regional level. Its focus is on promoting practical measures that help to strengthen the region's counter-terrorism defences.

In February 2004, Australia and Indonesia co-chaired a Regional Ministerial Meeting on Counter-Terrorism that produced concrete outcomes in the critical areas of law enforcement, information sharing and legal frameworks. The meeting, attended by foreign and law enforcement ministers from 25 countries, also gave fresh political momentum to regional counter-terrorism efforts. A similar ministerial meeting in December 2002 helped raise awareness of the ways in which terrorist groups acquire and use funds, and the legal means that can be deployed to cut off their financial lifeline.

Australia is supporting the work of the South-East Asian Regional Centre for Counter- Terrorism (SEARCCT) in Kuala Lumpur as well as the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok and the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime in Manila. Australian immigration authorities will be conducting a course on document fraud detection at SEARCCT in August 2004. JCLEC will complement the activities of these institutions. Australia and ASEAN concluded a counter-terrorism declaration on 1 July 2004 reflecting our shared determination to work together as a region to eliminate transnational terrorism.

APEC is emerging as a valuable grouping for counter-terrorism cooperation. APEC Leaders have agreed to take all necessary action to dismantle transnational terrorist groups, to contain the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and to strengthen controls over MANPADS. An Australian border management initiative is being advanced within APEC: the Advance Passenger Information (API) Pathfinder Initiative. And Australia is engaged in the possible development of a regional movement alert system. Both can help strengthen airline security.

We are working with other APEC members to tighten maritime and customs security, and controls on the financing of terrorism. This work is part of the capacity-building assistance being provided by Australia to implement APEC's Secure Trade in the APEC Region (STAR) initiative. This is complemented by our contribution to a new Regional Trade and Financial Security Initiative within the Asia Development Bank. It will be used to strengthen port and border security arrangements in APEC developing economies.

Australia is leading an APEC initiative to raise awareness about and build the capacity of computer emergency response teams (CERT). These teams are valuable building blocks for increasing cyber security in our region and globally. We also funded the creation of a CERT network to share information about cyber attacks and are providing training to CERT teams in a number of countries in the region.

Australia plays an active role in the APEC Counter-Terrorism Task Force. The task force was established in 2002 to shape capacity-building efforts and to oversee implementation of APEC's secure trade agenda.

We are helping to shape the counter-terrorism agenda in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). A workshop on managing the consequences of a terrorist attack, co-hosted by Australia and Singapore in Darwin in June 2003, drew on the lessons learned from the Bali bombings. Experts from around the region identified strategies to facilitate closer regional cooperation in responding to a major terrorist attack, including one involving chemical, biological or radiological weapons. One concrete outcome from the workshop has been the establishment of a register of regional disaster response agencies. This will improve the prospect of coordinated regional responses to major terrorist attacks.

Australia co-chaired with Thailand an ARF workshop on the Prevention of Terrorism in 2002. And we contributed to ARF meetings on border and transport security in 2003 and 2004. These meetings have laid the basis for a more coordinated regional response to those aspects of the terrorist threat.

The Asia - Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) is another channel through which Australia is working to strengthen the region's counter-terrorism response, especially in the area of anti-terrorist financing. We are a permanent co-chair of the APG, the regional body established to assist members implement FATF standards on anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing. Through AUSTRAC, we have provided experts to help identify the needs of APG member countries. AUSTRAC's work in the APG on alternative remittance

systems - financial services traditionally operating outside the regulated financial sector - formed the basis of a FATF best practices paper on terrorist financing. We are helping Pacific island countries strengthen their counter-terrorism legal, administrative and security regimes through the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). This includes assistance to implement the Nasonini Declaration adopted by PIF leaders in August 2002. The declaration requires the island countries to put in place legislation to comply with internationally agreed anti-terrorism measures. In conjunction with the PIF, we have developed a regional framework and model legislation for this purpose that will be refined to meet the specific legal requirements of individual countries.

A workshop sponsored by Australia, the United States, New Zealand and the PIF in March 2002 helped raise awareness among Pacific island countries of the threat posed by transnational terrorism and the role these countries have in combating it. In May 2004, a Pacific Roundtable on Counter-Terrorism was held in New Zealand where senior officials examined the transport security, border security and law enforcement challenges facing the island countries. The Roundtable highlighted the importance of compliance with the new IMO and ICAO transport security requirements and the constraints the island countries face in meeting these requirements. Security systems at sea ports and airports were identified as areas requiring urgent attention.

Australia is funding a new Financial Intelligence Support Team (FIST) focused on the needs of the Pacific island countries. The FIST, to be located in the region, will provide legal and strategic policy advice, mentoring and training to help the island countries meet their international anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing obligations. It will ensure that existing and proposed Financial Intelligence Units in the Pacific are equipped with the necessary skills to deal with emerging financial crimes, including the financing of terrorism. Australia will join with its partners under the Five Power Defence Arrangements in defence exercises that will focus on addressing non-conventional threats in the region, particularly terrorism. The first of these exercises, which will involve ADF units, is scheduled to be held in the South China Sea in October 2004 and will be based on a mock merchant ship hijacking. Other government agencies will also participate in the exercises, where appropriate, to develop a broader multi-agency approach to countering terrorism in the region.

Protecting our nation

Australia's international efforts to combat terrorism draw upon the capacities and systems developed to ensure the safety and security of the Australian community from the threat of terrorism. This is of the utmost importance to the government. It has put in place a comprehensive set of counter-terrorism measures based around tougher anti-terrorism laws and stronger terrorism fighting agencies. Our international engagement is an integral part of the government's counter-terrorism strategy.

New laws

Domestically, new laws make it a crime to commit, train or prepare for a terrorist act. It is also illegal to be a member of, support or finance a terrorist organisation. As at June 2004, seventeen organisations, including Al Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah, have been listed as terrorist organisations under Australian criminal law. In addition, over 500 individuals and entities have been listed for the purposes of asset freezing. Other laws have dealt with suppressing terrorist financing and improving border security.

Stronger agencies

Existing agencies have been strengthened and their counter-terrorism authority and capacities boosted to ensure they can counter the terrorist threat. Australia's intelligence agencies now have their greatest capacity ever to collect, sort, retrieve and analyse terrorism-related information. The government has significantly increased ASIO's resources over the past two years, which has enabled it to strengthen its capabilities in investigations and analysis, border control, threat assessment, critical infrastructure protection and security assessment. The government has also established a dedicated, multi-agency, around-the- clock National Threat Assessment Centre (NTAC).


ASIO has national responsibility for the preparation of threat assessments, a key element in Australia's protective security arrangements. The National Threat Assessment Centre (NTAC) is a dedicated 24 hour, seven-day-a-week operation located in ASIO which:

  • comprehensively monitors and analyses all intelligence and information relating to terrorism available to the Australian Government
  • prepares assessments of the likelihood and probable nature of terrorism and other acts of politically motivated violence against Australia, Australian citizens here and abroad and Australian interests overseas.

In addition to ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, the Defence Intelligence Organisation, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Transport and Regional Services and the Office of National Assessments contribute staff to NTAC.

Having these agencies working together in a single centre enables faster production of threat assessments and greater assurance that all relevant information available to Australian agencies is taken into account in their preparation.

NTAC assessments are used by DFAT in preparing its travel advisories, which provide advice to Australians travelling overseas. NTAC assessments are also used in determining the national counter-terrorism alert level and aid government decision- making about security measures.

The capacity of the AFP to investigate and prevent terrorist activity in Australia has been upgraded significantly. The AFP has established new Joint Counter-Terrorism Teams with all state and territory police services. These teams work in each capital city to identify and investigate terrorism offences. The AFP has also boosted its investigative, intelligence and protective security capabilities, including enhanced technical, forensic and 'high-tech' crime teams and additional close personal protection teams.

The ADF has formed a second tactical assault group improving its capacity to respond to terrorist incidents on the east coast of Australia. It will also form a specialised incident response regiment to be activated in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack in Australia.

Tactical Assault Group members

Australian Defence Force Tactical Assault Group members in Sydney (Photo: Defence)

Better border protection

Border protection measures have been strengthened and improvements made to container screening at Australian ports. The government has introduced Air Security Officers on domestic flights. Aviation security has been improved by increased baggage and passenger screening and tighter security at airports. The government is also working with state government transport agencies to promote better transport security for land and rail based on best practice overseas.

More protection for infrastructure

Steps have been taken to increase the level of protection for Australia's national critical infrastructure - communications networks, banking, electricity, water and food supplies, health and emergency services, transport, and infrastructure central to national security, such as defence and intelligence facilities. The majority of critical infrastructure is owned or controlled by the private sector or by state and territory governments, so a high level of cooperation involving all parties to protect this infrastructure is essential.

Creating a secure and trusted electronic operating environment is especially important to Australia's full participation in a global economy that increasingly depends on computer- based communications and technologies. The government has taken a number of initiatives to secure Australia's computer and technology infrastructure from cyber-terrorism, including the creation of an IT security incident response team.

National security hotline

An Australian public that is informed and alert to the possible threat of terrorism has an important contribution to make to national security. It gives effect to the government's policies by reporting suspicious activities and taking measures to increase personal security. To this end, the government created the National Security Hotline - 1800 123 400 - as a single point of contact for national security information.

All these domestic counter-terrorism initiatives are supported by an extensive set of administrative arrangements. They ensure a high degree of cooperation and coordination between all agencies and all levels of government.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade