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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


On 29 March 2004, the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, announced the Government's intention to prepare a White Paper on terrorism. The White Paper, titled 'Transnational Terrorism: The Threat to Australia', was publicly launched by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Downer, at the National Press Club in Canberra on 15 July. The White Paper represents the Government's views and analysis and is based on expert advice from a range of sources.

The White Paper's main purpose is to present to the Australian public an authoritative view of the international dimensions of the contemporary terrorist threat to Australia and Australian interests. This reflects the high priority the Government places on dealing with this difficult security issue. It also reflects the Government's commitment to keeping the Australian public fully informed of significant changes to Australia's security environment and the measures being taken by the Government to protect Australia's interests. The White Paper will help inform public debate and understanding of the context in which the Government is developing Australia's approach to fighting terrorism.

As a Western liberal democracy, Australia faces a serious threat from transnational extremist-Muslim terrorism. The White Paper examines the origins of this threat with a particular focus on Al Qaida. It describes how the threat manifests itself internationally and in Australia's immediate region, and acknowledges that the target of the terrorists is as much mainstream Islam and moderate Muslim countries as it is the West.

The White Paper explains how and why Australia is a terrorist target, noting that the threat to Australian interests is higher overseas than at home. Australians are at risk in many regions and localities internationally, including where Western interests generally are targeted. They should continue to consult the Government's online travel advisory service for specific travel advice:

Australia is at the forefront of international efforts to combat the new terrorist threat and the White Paper provides details of what we are doing internationally. The Government is responding with a sustained and strategic campaign both within our region, where we are making our most substantial contribution, and on the global front. The White Paper reaffirms the Government's strong commitment and determination to strengthen cooperation with our regional partners, traditional allies and other members of the international community to fight terrorism. And it highlights the importance of protecting our core values as a nation - tolerance, pluralism, freedom and openness.

The White Paper complements another recent Australian Government publication, 'Protecting Australia Against Terrorism', which sets out the key elements of Australia's national counter-terrorism policy and arrangements.

The following documents relating to the White Paper are also available:


  • Foreword by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
  • Overview
  • Chapter 1 - Facing the Changing Nature of Modern Terrorism
  • Chapter 2 - A New Kind of Foe
  • Chapter 3 - The Evolution and Influence of Al Qaida
  • Chapter 4 - The Evolution of Transnational Extremist-Muslim Terrorist Groups in South-East Asia
  • Chapter 5 - The Terrorist Threat in South-East Asia
  • Chapter 6 - The Threat to Australia and Australia's Interests
  • Chapter 7 - Countering the Terrorist Threat
  • Chapter 8 - An Enduring Campaign

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade