Suspicion on the rise
Surge in Australians reporting terrorism fears
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.”