Australia’s home-grown security threat

On 730 last night, the outgoing Director-General of a ASIO drew attention to the ongoing security issues in Australia

ASIO boss David Irvine warns threat level may rise

Mr Irvine, who clearly comes from the Sir Humphrey Appleby School of public service said of the security threat

“I would say that at the moment, it is at a very elevated level of medium and I’m certainly contemplating very seriously the notion of lifting it higher,”

According to Irvine the major threat arises from people who go to the Middle East and are trained to fight and then return to Australia “radicalised”. This is what constitutes an increase in our security risk. Asked how many people they were in Australia and who posed this risk, Irving hedged but admitted that it was probably somewhere in the low 20s.

How hard can it be to keep tabs on 20 or so radicals? Do we really need to go to war to circumvent the threat posed by such a small group? Given that there will be several hundred overseas who may return home, the numbers will clearly grow. But will the threat grow? And if it does grow, we should ensure that our internal security forces are equipped to deal with it.

It was clear from the Four Corners program that these young militants are going overseas to fight for a cause they believe in. They are obviously deeply moved by the sectarian and ideological issues that divide the Middle East. It would appear that they’re not going overseas to fight against Australia. Not at present anyhow.

But this could all change with Australian military engagement in the region. Some of the young Australians who have gone overseas to fight could easily be on the receiving end of the sophisticated technology that Australia will deploy against ISIS. Some will be killed, some will see their comrades killed. Then they will return to Australia.

Writing in The Guardian, Malcolm Fraser argues that there is sufficient legislation enacted in Australia to withdraw Australian citizenship from anyone who fights in an overseas war.

The problem of returning jihadists is actually very simple to solve. Don’t let them back in the country. It may be a rough form of justice but that may be more effective than sending F/A 18F Super Hornets to blow the living daylights out of everybody.

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