20 November 2014
BANGKOK — Australia is emerging as a major breeding ground for radical Islamic terrorists, and this has prompted a swift and tough response from Canberra to protect the country against the rise of Islamic State, Syria’s Jabat Al Nusra and other terrorist groups.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Aug. 5 that sweeping new anti-terrorism laws will be introduced, while existing measures, passed following the London bombings in 2005, will be extended. He also earmarked 630 million Australian dollars ($549 million) and new, wide-ranging powers for government spy agencies, and wants to introduce tougher penalties for offenders. Then, on Sept. 12, Abbott raised Australia’s terror alert to “high” as he unveiled a fresh military commitment to assist the U.S. in rooting out the Islamic State group in Iraq by force.
“For some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift,” Abbott told Australia’s parliament on Sept. 22. “Regrettably, for some time to come, Australians will have to endure more security than we are used to and more inconvenience than we would like,” he added.
His actions incensed critics, who said the measures have gone beyond the limits to individual freedom that any democratic nation could tolerate. But there are also academics and moderate Muslims who argue that they are necessary for the country.
“Australia is without doubt a definite target of radical Islamic groups,” said Rohan Gunaratna, professor of security studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technology University.
GPO / ICPVTR / RSIS / Online
Last updated on 20/11/2014