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Terrorism in Australia

Australia’s national terrorism threat level remains at PROBABLE—credible intelligence, assessed to represent a plausible scenario, indicates an intention and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia.

Although COVID-19 has changed our environment, it has not substantially diminished the threat of terrorism in Australia. The primary threat remains Sunni Islamic extremism, but other violent ideologies—such as those of the extreme right—are also of concern.

Islamic extremists continue to disseminate propaganda designed to radicalise, recruit, instruct on and inspire terrorist attacks, including in Australia. Australia continues to be specifically mentioned in pro–Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) propaganda, and these releases add to a large body of material that encourages terrorism. This propaganda is drawing a younger audience which accesses this material online, and its potential reach increased in 2020 as COVID-19 social isolation increasingly pushed Australians online. Al-Qa‘ida remains active, particularly offshore; although in the next five years Australian prisons are due to release a number of Islamic extremist prisoners whose actions were inspired by al-Qa‘ida.

Extreme right-wing groups and individuals have been in ASIO’s sights for many decades—while we have maintained continuous and dedicated resources to this area, extremists such as neo-Nazis represent a serious, increasing and evolving threat to security. The 2019 Christchurch attack continues to be drawn on for inspiration by right-wing extremists worldwide.

These groups are also becoming ideological: more aware of and committed to specific dogmas, philosophies and views. They draw from a diversity of ideas and are attracting a younger membership who display few overt signs of their extremist ideology.