Herald Sun

Sus­pi­cion on the rise

Surge in Aus­tralians re­port­ing ter­ror­ism fears

- JAMES DOWL­ING james.dowl­ing2@news.com.au @jameswdowl­ing

SINCE last year’s rise of Is­lamic State, Aus­tralians have made more than 27,000 re­ports of sus­pected ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity.

Re­ports to the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Hot­line showed a dra­matic in­crease in De­cem­ber last year — fol­low­ing the Lindt cafe siege — and in Septem­ber, af­ter Mel­bourne teenager Nu­man Haider at­tacked two coun­tert­er­ror­ism of­fi­cers with a knife.

The hot­line, which in­cludes the new Re­port Online Ex­trem­ism Tool, takes more than 80 re­ports of sus­pi­cious ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity a day.

But in Septem­ber, fol­low­ing Haider’s at­tack in En­deav­our Hills, it rose to 145 re­ports a day, and in De­cem­ber there were 141 re­ports a day, af­ter Man Haron Mo­nis held 18 hostages in a Syd­ney cafe.

The Aus­tralian Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Media Au­thor­ity has re­ceived 38 com­plaints about ex­trem­ist ma­te­rial online, such as be­head­ing videos. But all the web­sites have been hosted over­seas, mean­ing the ACMA can’t re­move the ma­te­rial.

Joint In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee chair Dan Te­han said IS pumped out al­most 100,000 pieces of ex­trem­ist pro­pa­ganda a day “that glo­ri­fied ter­ror­ist vi­o­lence”. At a speech to the Aus­tralian Se­cu­rity In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion Lim­ited con­fer­ence, Mr Te­han said min­imis­ing and chal­leng­ing online ex­trem­ism was vi­tal to fight­ing ter­ror­ism. “We know there is no sil­ver bullet in this area, and there is still a great deal to learn,” he said. “Tak­ing down ex­trem­ist con­tent from the web is cru­cial and would be im­pos­si­ble with­out the co-op­er­a­tion of in­dus­try and the com­mu­nity.”

He said the Gov­ern­ment had con­trib­uted $21 mil­lion to fight online pro­pa­ganda.

So­cial media ex­pert Ni­cole Mate­jic said IS had turned so­cial media mar­ket­ing tech­niques into a terror weapon. “They are us­ing the same con­tent mar­ket­ing strat­egy to push out their ab­hor­rent im­agery and con­tent and re­cruit in­for­ma­tion as, say, Mercedes uses to sell a car.”

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