Australia’s intelligence services are in close contact with the UK as the terrorism threat level there moves from “substantial” to “severe” over activity by the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.
“It is of serious concern that Australian citizens are active in these groups,” says Attorney-General George Brandis.
About 60 Australians are engaged in fighting in Syria and Iraq with an additional 100 involved in active facilitation and support, according to government assessments.
“We remain in close contact with the United Kingdom and other partners about the threat from terrorist groups active in Syria and Iraq and from returning foreign fighters,” Brandis says.
Director-General of Security David Irvine says Australia is facing its highest threat for some time with a large number of Australians in the conflict.
Australia’s National Terrorism Public Alert System level remains at “Medium” which indicates a terrorist attack could occur.
This level is under constant review and is based on advice from security and intelligence agencies.
Meanwhile, Muslim leaders say they have been left disappointed by a meeting with Attorney-General Brandis to discuss proposed anti-terror laws.
According to the ABC, a spokesman for 15 Muslim and community groups said the meeting “proved to be disappointing”.
“Despite our better judgement and facing considerable pressure to disengage, we attended in the hope of being proven wrong,” Hany Amer told the ABC.
The legislation would make it an offence to visit certain areas dominated by terrorists without justification.
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