Go to top of page

New terminology

In early 2021, ASIO adopted new terminology to describe terrorism and violent extremism to ensure our terminology remains fit for purpose in an evolving threat environment.

The framework uses two umbrella terms for violent extremism—religiously motivated violent extremism, and ideologically motivated violent extremism.

Religiously motivated violent extremism denotes support for violence to oppose or achieve a specific social, political or legal system based on a religious interpretation.

Ideologically motivated violent extremism denotes support for violence to achieve political outcomes or in response to specific political or social grievances.

Religiously motivated violent extremists—specifically Sunni violent extremists—remain an enduring threat and continue to be shaped by ISIL and, to a lesser extent, al‑Qa‘ida. These groups continue to promote attacks against the West by publishing propaganda designed to radicalise, instruct on and inspire terrorist attacks. Australia continues to be specifically mentioned.

Ideologically motivated violent extremists—specifically nationalist and racist violent extremists—remain focused on producing propaganda, radicalising and recruiting others, and preparing for an anticipated societal collapse. They are security-conscious and adapt their security posture to avoid legal action. Nationalist and racist violent extremists are located in all Australian states and territories. Compared with other forms of violent extremism, this threat is more widely dispersed across the country—including in regional and rural areas.

The emergence of nationalist and isolationist narratives globally is normalising aspects of ideologically motivated violent extremist ideology, including nationalist and racist, and specific-issue violent extremism.