Australia and the Issue of Terrorism

The War in Iraq and Its Influence on Australia

The War in Iraq has made Australia a bigger target for international terrorists The involvement of Australia on the war in Iraq spurred terrorism activities in the country because any country that got involved in the war was perceived as a great enemy of the terrorist groups which had quite a number of followers in Australia. Intelligence analysts have stated that the involvement spurred terrorism and recruiting of terrorists in Iraq. It is also said that that participation in the Iraq war inflamed extremism and this resulted into more recruitment of young people who would be used to carry out terrorist attacks in various parts of the country. It resulted into intensified preparations by the al-Qaeda agents to carry out jihad war on any one who was perceived as a supporter of the invasion of Iraq. (Baker, 2006)The anger that was directed to the west and especially to America was live to any other state that agreed to support the invasion of Iraq.

This was the case with Australia which was seen as a close ally of America and therefore became a target of terrorism. It revoked violent responses among the Australian Muslim who thought that it was not in the best interest of the country to engage in the war in Iraq. The war has resulted into an increase in anti-western sentiments and has become a good base on which the terrorist have used to retaliate in various attacks in the world and in Australia. Though the invasion was seen as a global war against terrorism and the government assured its citizens of the real uproot of terrorism in the world and specifically in Australia, this did not happen as participation in the war made participants of terrorism even bigger terrorists. Terrorist who supported or were sympathetic to Saddam Hussein reacted harshly and declared their jihad war against any nation that invad3d Iraq and Australia is not an option from attacks by these groups of terrorists. Al Qaeda has singled out Australia as one of the best targets on several occasions with the most recent being the attack by Jemaah Islamiya in Bali where a total of 202 people lost their lives including 88 Australians. (Derek and Peter, 2006)

The main reason singled out by the group that carried out this attack was that Australia had become a strong ally of America and supported America both with weapons and troops to kill their brothers in Iraq. This was said to be an abuse of human rights and invasion of Iraq fueled harsh response from all groups of Muslims. Most Islamic countries perceived American invasion of Iraq as a way of trying to take control of important resources in Iraq such as oil. Any other country that got involved in the war was also thought to have the same mission and it just like America became a target of terrorist activities. Australia being in the group of invaders was and has been a target of terrorist activities that resulted from its involvement in Iraq war. The vulnerability of Australians to terrorist’s attacks has increased than ever before due to the country’s involvement in Iraq war.

Terrorist groups have been over several times threatening that even if the Australian government intensifies its ground intelligence to curb terrorism they have other many ways of carrying out their terrorism activities including the use of aircrafts as is the case in America. Australia’s shift in terrorism experience has clearly demonstrated that it was as a result of the country’s participation in the war that terrorist intensified their activities in Australia. For example, few Australians became victims of terrorism before the onset of Iraq war. Most of those who were caught up in these acts were either in foreign nations or mistaken identities still in foreign nations such as the killing of two Australians citizens mistaken by the Irish Republican Army to be British citizens. But in the recent years Australian have become a target of the transnational exterimist-Muslim terrorism and the Australians are no longer safe wherever they may be in the world. This is the repercussions of the participation in Iraq war which has made the country an enemy of the Islamic extremists. It is therefore true that Australia participation in the Iraq war has been the reason why the country has become a target for many terrorist groups which have left several Australians dead or injured in those activities. The participation fueled tension among the Muslim groups which have retaliated through terrorism activities.

Australia’s Biggest Security Threat

Australia faces a terrorist threat on three levels. First, there is the global threat from al-Qaeda and like-minded groups. For instance, Ten Australians died in the 9/11 attacks on the US. One died in a bombing in Turkey in 2003, one in Saudi Arabia in 2004, and one in the London bombings of July 2005.

Second, Australians face a threat from jihad’s groups in their immediate region, particularly Indonesia, but also the Philippines. Eighty-eight Australians died in the 2002 Bali bombings; another four were killed in the 2005 attacks; and the Australian embassy in Jakarta was directly targeted in 2004.

Third, Australians face a threat from so-called home-grown terrorism, the perception of which increased after the July London bombings and was brought home to the public by the recent raids and arrests of suspected terrorists in Sydney and Melbourne. Australia has recently introduced strict domestic counter-terrorism laws. (Derek and Peter, 2006)

Following the an anticipated end of the cold war conflict, debates on the security became more intense and took on added force after the attack on the US on September 11, 2001. Generally, the terrorist activities were viewed as a part of the west, but Australia which is a regional power on its own right has been an active and loyal member of the US-led coalitions to evict terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq posses the same threats from terrorists as western countries. The Bali attacks brought home to Australia the direct nature of the new global terrorist threats to its own security. The bomb explosion in Bali on 12th October 2002 in Indonesia led to death of many Australian citizens, which in turn was marked as Australia September 11. This led to questions regarding Australia’s international and domestic security policies.

Homegrown Terrorism

This is a new paradigm in Australia that has emerged since 9/11, after the earlier wave of centralized organization structures like al-Qaeda and other transnational terrorist groups, which is challenging the security, law enforcement and intelligent services in Australia. The homegrown jihadists are Australian citizens who are either converts or cradle Muslims driven by the ideology of global jihads, and adhere to the clarion call of Osama bin Laden that “it is the duty of every good Muslim to wage jihad.” They are made to believe that they are being targeted by the USA and its’ allies such as Australia since they belong to the Muslim communities, and hence they see it as their duty and obligation to fight against those who are anti-Islamic and the Muslims. (Derek and Peter, 2006)

The extremists and terrorist ideologies including the homegrown have called for attacks against the US, friends and its allies whose attacks occur anywhere and at anytime. Since Australia is an allies of the US in fighting terrorism, and due to the fact that its citizens pay taxes that are used to support the Australian forces in the Iraq and Afghanistan, the homegrown and other terrorist have directed their attack to the Australian civilians including children and women. They have gone to an extent of using suicide attacks normally conducted by the homegrown within which causes mass fatality and casualty attacks which is permitted by the jihadists operational code.

Recently there are a lot of martyrdom attacks where most Australian youth with secular education volunteer for suicide attacks. The availability of the extremists and terrorist websites in the Internet has encouraged the youth to volunteer for the martyrdom attacks. Furthermore, the idealistic Muslim youth are trapped by rewards which are promised by al-Qaeda and other terrorists such as; immediate entry to paradise, audience with God, eternal life etc, which posses a major threat to the security of Australia.

Terrorist ideologues; this includes the Australian terrorist ideologues which gives the graphic accounts of paradise. For instance, in Australia there is ideologue that embellishes the beauty of the heavenly virgins that has motivated idealistic Muslims youth to engage in terrorism. This ideology is disseminated through the Internet, which in turn links up the self-recruited jihadists with the like-minded jihadists. The home grown individuals, cells and groups do not leave any footprint, lack formal group structure of leadership, membership and supporters, hence due to the fact that they lack hierarchical structure, they cannot be dismantled which remains a riddle to the Australian security. (Stella, 2008)

Terrorism in Australian Region

Indonesia is the largest Islamic nation in the world whose 220 million out of 240 million of its population are Muslims. It is crucial to the Australia security in that it is the gateway to Australia from the Asia. This in turn has posed threat to the Australia security especially from the jihadists groups from Indonesia and Philippines. The move of the Australia to advocate for the crack down of the extremists Jemaah Islamabad (JI) movement in the Indonesia and its involvement to the Iraq war has been harshly criticized by southwest Asian governments which are Islamic dominant governments.

In Indonesia, the criminal gangs which include Islamic defenders front (IDF) and Laskar jihad whose leaders have ideological affinity with Osama bin Laden who is the leader of the al-Qaeda are feared in that they can initiate terrorist activities which are a threat to the region and its neighborhoods. Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in Indonesia, which struggles with domestic issues, has carried out many terrorist acts since 2000 in pursuit of its goals, which poses threat to the security of the region in general. For instance, the April 2003 bombing of the united nation building and soevarno-Hatta international airport, and the July 2003 bombing of the Indonesia parliament compound in Jakarta which is associated with this movement poses a threat to the regions security as well as the allies of the US security. (Stella, 2008)This group is still building up after the 9/11, and has advanced in its recruitment and technology in weapons and tactics of the attack that threatens further the security of Australia who were the key campaigners against the movement.

Global terrorism threat

This is another level of security threat to the Australian security. The most notable aspect of Al Qaeda in the post 9-11 has been its broadened appeal amongst the Muslim society. Its principles and operational line of attack of martyrdom has become popular, widespread and accepted by like-minded jihad groups from Australia to Chechnya and Canada. Despite sustained pressure by the US and its allies, Al Qaeda has maintained its course. Al Qaeda’s intransigence, resilience, and its failure to yield have surprised many. Al Qaeda has become more devoted in its jihad campaign. It has become more determined in achieving its planned goals.

Al Qaeda has suffered severely for the last five years after the 9/11, but its headship – bin Laden and Dr Ayman al Zawahiri – are still alive and at large. These icons of terror are exciting and instigating a global jihad against the US, its Allies and its friends.(Stella, 2008)

In the face of difficulty, Al Qaeda has demonstrated a bizarre ability to incorporate disparate jihadists’ youth into a post-9/11 vision of eternal war against the West. The UK arrests in August 2006 revealed the adaptive nature of the group. It doesn’t need to send operatives from Afghanistan, but there are young first and second generation politicized and radicalized Muslims living in the Australia willing to carry out its avowed mission. Even if Al Qaeda leadership is sought after and the group ruined, its operation of attacking the West and its allies articulated by bin Laden as a religious duty and popularized by Al Qaeda will go on.

The Most Effective Australian Policy Responses to Terrorism

The Australian government has engaged to a broader international coalition against terrorism policy. The government has cooperated with its neighbors and strategic partners such as Japan and the United Kingdom who are committed to combat terrorism in southern East Asia. The Australian advocates and works hand in hand with initiatives such as APEC’S Counter-terrorism Task force and the G8’S Counter-Terrorism Assistance groups. (Paul, 2004)

The government has continuously made its case that the campaign against terrorism is not a war directed to the Islam and Muslims but it is the use of violence by the jihadists about which the anti-terrorist campaigns differ with. In this regard the government has encouraged the enlightment of the idealistic Muslims youth so that they cannot be misguided by the al-Qaeda ideologues and their promised rewards which is encouraging the Southeast Asia to adopt. It is also exploiting the apparent division within the Islamic followers, between the small minority who are violence maniac against infidels and the literate majority who opposes the violence. Efforts are also made by the Australian government to ensure that the infidels and literate community wins the support and confidence of this moderate Muslim mainstream.

Australia has also formed strong and close relations with Indonesia in addressing the issue of terrorism; for instance, the Bali meeting between Australia and the Indonesia welcomed the Australia/Indonesia counter terrorist initiative to establish the Jakarta center for law enforcement cooperation, which led to religion counter-terrorism capabilities. Australia is also working hand in hand with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Philippines in order to ensure that there is an agreement on the counter-terrorism policy among Southeast Asian nations and also to deepen the link between intelligence agencies and police forces within the region. This has enabled Australia to establish a strong relationship with southern East Asia.

The government has also established an activist foreign policy whose aim is to generate and sustain effective and genuinely cooperation relationship against terrorism. It has indeed helped to strip the problem down to its essentials; terrorism is seen as a crime and communities have been encouraged to stigmatize and isolate fanatics seeking to involve religious or moral authority when justifying the criminal violence. It also provides aid, other form of targeted assistance in community where extremism might flourish. Also Australia has active programs for cultural, administration and religious divides where links can be built between Muslim and the west for example, to equip countries with stronger fairer and more resilient instruments of governance, advices on consequence and opportunities of globalization. (Paul, 2004)


Terrorism is a tactic, a weapon, wielded by certain groups. While it might not be possible to get rid of terrorism completely from Southeast Asia, it can be reduced to simply a nuisance level. In general, Australia and the West ought to promote an intelligent and balanced response to Islamic extremism, which demands moral and ideological answers, not just a military response.

The wider strategic challenge for Australia, however, is to strike a new balance between its regional security needs and its global commitments to the US as an ally. It will not be easy for Australia to step up its counter terrorism agenda in the region while maintaining open and full military support for the global US-led war on terror. Australia cannot afford the impression to develop in Southeast Asia that it is merely the regional agent for the US. Thus Australia must operate more as an independent player within the alliance.


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Sally, A. (2007). Government Communication in Australia, (London, Cambridge University Press).

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