In early August, the federal government confirmed that a number of Australian Defence Force (ADF) members had been mentioned on the Islamic State’s latest “hit list.” A group calling itself the Islamic State Hacking Division released personal details of approximately 1,400 people, including approximately eight ADF members and public servants. Among those details were email addresses, phone numbers, credit card information, as well as online passwords to their personal accounts.
An article titled “Social media warning to Diggers” published in The West Australian earlier this year detailed how Australia’s military personnel have been told to avoid using social media in the wake of the Islamic State threat. This warning came amid the release of scores of U.S. soldiers’ details which IS has vowed to use for nefarious purposes. No less than 100 U.S. service personnel had their details published online after these were allegedly ascertained from social media sites, most notably Facebook.
The government has responded to the most recent security breach by stating that our intelligence agencies are looking into the threats. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) also issued a statement saying that it would liaise with state and territory agencies in order to work toward an appropriate response.
Of note, a Victorian member of parliament (MP) also had a number of personal details released by the group. The higher-than-usual profile of this particular target urged Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to personally comment on the situation. Mr. Andrews said he was briefed about the threat but would not go into details on the MP’s security arrangements for obvious reasons.
This story is something that resonates with me for a number of reasons. It not only relates to a number of articles that I have previously written, but it is scarily pointing toward an outcome that, under the current arrangements in Australia, is all but inevitable.
I firstly addressed the dangers of ADF members wearing their uniforms outside of work in the article “Wearing Your Uniform In Public: Act of Defiance or Tactical Faux Pas?” I questioned whether wearing one’s uniform in public is the most common-sense option given the nature of contemporary terrorist threats such as that posed by IS.
More recently, I penned two articles, “Australia’s Military and the Gun Debate” and “Australia’s Homegrown Radicalisation Problem.” The former discussed the feasibility of arming ADF members to some degree in order to afford them the protection that they need in these exceptionally dangerous times. The latter detailed just how real this threat is and argued that being realistic about it is not the same as being an alarmist.
What I am seeing here is a very subtle progression that has the very real potential to develop into something catastrophic. The more recent attack on the train in France highlights the emerging tactics of lone or pairs of active shooters, which are also proving to be the most difficult to detect. This terrorist attack was only stopped because three exceptionally brave and unarmed U.S. citizens—two of whom were military personnel—decided to intervene.
My personal stance remains unchanged: Our current firearms legislation needs to be reviewed in the wake of this unprecedented threat. Since sharing this article on the Australian Veteran Owned Business Facebook page, the bulk of the comments also reflect this line of thinking. People who have spoken out are genuinely concerned about the perceived disadvantage that law-abiding citizens are being put in because of our draconian gun laws.
I have been a long-time advocate of realistic provisions for self defence for everyone of sound mind. Our firearms legislation is great on some accounts, but is severely lacking on others. We do a pretty good job with regards to the licensing process, but this doesn’t deter criminals from obtaining firearms with the right connections and money. This disproportionate balance thus leaves responsible citizens who own legal firearms unable to use them to protect themselves, and unlicensed criminals with unregistered firearms who will use them however they please.
The fact is we now have a group with global sympathisers who are willing to commit the most heinous of crimes to support their twisted and perverted ideology. They have repeatedly stated that military personnel are one of their prime targets and have now shown—albeit in a very amateurish way—the ability to find out personal details about them.
The progressive nature of what is being reported on is only going in one direction and heading toward an unacceptable end state. The fact that the government is “looking into” and “discussing” appropriate measures is simply not acceptable. Bureaucracy can be the antithesis to the flexibility required in dealing with this contemporary threat. When all else fails, our law-abiding citizens should at least be able to find comfort in knowing they can defend themselves and their homes with legally purchased and licensed firearms if they ever needed to.
(Featured image courtesy of tweaktown.com)