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PM warns home-grown terror ‘rising’

PM Kevin Rudd has announced the introduction of fingerprinting and facial imaging on visa applicants from around ten countries, warning that home-grown terrorism is now a reality in Australia.


*Fingerprinting, facial imaging for ‘risk visas’

*List of ten ‘risk countries’ not disclosed yet

*Counter-terrorism multi-agency to be set up

Speaking at Parliament House in Canberra, Rudd unveiled a long-awaited counter terrorism white paper.

The money will fund the introduction of biometric-based systems and reduce the risk of terrorists, criminals and other persons of concern entering Australia undetected.

A new counter terrorism control centre will be established that will improve the ability of agencies to operate against terrorism and to detect and prevent terrorists’ threats.

“The government remains committed to efforts that enhance integration and co-ordination of Australia’s national security systems,” the white paper says, adding the range of security challenges would be managed in a flexible and adaptive way”.

“This approach serves our objective to take all necessary and practical measures to protect Australia and Australians at home and abroad.”

Mr Rudd said terrorism continued to pose a serious threat and a serious challenge to Australia’s security.

“That threat is not diminishing,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“In fact, the government’s security intelligence agencies assess that terrorism has become a persistent and permanent feature of Australia’s security environment.”

Security and intelligence agencies report that, while there have been counter-terrorism successes, they had been offset by the rise of groups affiliated with, or inspired by, al-Qaeda’s message and methods.

“Another apparent shift has been the increase in the threat from people born or raised in Australia, who have become influenced by the divisive narrative espoused by al-Qaeda,” Mr Rudd said.

Mr Rudd said a terrorist attack could occur at any time.

“Prior to the rise of jihadist terrorism, Australia was not a specific target, now Australia is,” he said, adding that more than 100 Australians had been killed in attacks since 2001.

Mr Rudd said there had been some success with counter terrorism efforts in South-East Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“But this has been offset by newer areas of concern such as Somalia and Yemen.”

Australia now faced an increased terrorism threat from people born or raised in Australia who took inspiration from “international jihadist narratives”, the prime minister said.

“The London attacks, in July 2005, brought into stark relief the real threat of globally-inspired but locally-generated attacks in western democracies,” Mr Rudd said.

The government was committed to “concrete action” to combat terrorism.

No government could guarantee that Australia can be free from the threat of terrorism.

“But the government can guarantee that we’ll take all necessary and practical measures to combat the threat,” Mr Rudd said.

The government’s intention was to provide security agencies with resources to assist them to identify terrorists and prevent attacks.

The list of the 10 countries considered ‘at risk’ has not been disclosed yet.

The white paper, scheduled for release late last year, was initiated following the terror attacks in Mumbai, India, in November, 2008, which killed 166 people including two Australians.

Its release follows the conclusion of a protracted trial of a group of Sydney Muslim men who plotted to carry out a terror attack in Australia.

All had been swayed by a message of violent jihadism.

The previous Howard government released a counter-terrorism white paper in 2004 warning of the risk posed by transnational terror groups such as al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah.

That followed the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States and terror attacks in Indonesia, including the October 2002 Bali bombing which killed 202, including 88 Australians.

The new paper warns that terrorism has emerged as a persistent and permanent feature of Australia’s security environment with the main threat posed by the global jihad movement and those inspired by its world view.

“There has been an increase in the threat from people born or raised in Australia who have become influenced by the violent jihadist message,” it says.

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