Terrorism in Australia is by no means a new phenomena. When I discuss the topic of successful terrorist attacks in Australia pre-2001, most people (even Australians) find it remarkable that five bombings and one assassination have occurred on Australian soil between 1972 and 1986. Post-2001 has certainly seen no respite in Australia and Australians being specifically targeted by terrorists, with Islamic extremists being the preeminent belligerents. Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri specifically mentioned Australia on six occasions as being a legitimate terrorist target based on our military commitment to both Afghanistan and Iraq. The Islamic State has also issued similar warnings based on our Prime Minister’s immediate decision to send troops and aircraft to the region as part of the global response.
On an international stage, Australia has had citizens killed in the September 11 attacks as well as the terrorist attacks in Bali in 2002 and 2005. The Australian Embassy was also specifically targeted in a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in 2004 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Domestically, Australia’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies boast a proud list of foiled terrorist attacks since 2001. Faheem Khalid, Mohammed Abderrahman aka Willie Brigitte, the Sydney Five, the Benbrika Group in Melbourne, and the Holsworthy Barracks Terror Plot are some of the most notable examples of Australia’s successes in its domestic war on terrorism. A number of the convicted individuals had links to international terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab, and their thwarted plans possessed all of the cowardly hallmarks that these groups are now infamous for practicing.