Brandis warns to prepare for more terror

Australia should be prepared for more terror attacks, including “lone wolf” attacks by people who need nothing more than a knife, a mobile phone and a victim, Attorney-General George Brandis says.

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Addressing the inaugural international counter improvised explosive device leaders forum in Canberra, he said we live in an age more dangerous than ever imagined before.

“I have the obligation to protect public safety at a time when the threat of terrorist attack has never been greater,” he said.

Senator Brandis said 120 Australians were fighting with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. That meant Australia had contributed more foreign fighters to this conflict as a proportion of population than the US or Canada.

Some 20,000 foreigners had travelled to Syria and Iraq to take up arms, he said.

“However, even that disturbing figure gives you only a glimpse of the rapidly escalating, increasingly dangerous environment we face today,” he said.

Some 170 people in Australia were actively supporting extremist groups through financing and recruitment.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is following thousands of leads and more than 400 high priority cases, double the number a year ago.

Senator Brandis said more than any other recent conflict, Syria highlighted not only that the global threat of terrorism remains undiminished but that it will continue to evolve away from large scale 9/11 type attacks to smaller and lone wolf attacks.

“As well as our efforts to stem the exodus of would-be foreign fighters, we should be prepared for more of these types of attacks in Australia,” he said.

Senator Brandis said around the world, policy-makers were acknowledging that wars in northern Iraq and Syria had a direct and immediate effect on the security of homelands.

“Responsible governments have to grapple with new policy and legislative responses to adapt to this significantly more dangerous security environment,” he said.