As the number of Australians involved in terrorist organisations in Syria reaches 200, US intelligence chief James Clapper says the terror groups are “[training] people to go back to their countries and conduct terrorist acts”.
Australia’s counter-terrorism ambassador Bill Fisher told Fairfax Media the threat of an attack on a “soft” target, such the Bali bombings in 2002 which claimed 202 lives, have “worsened” in recent times.
The number of Australians now actively engaged in combat with rebels to overthow dictator Bashar al-Assad is unknown.
“The capability of al-Qaeda and its affiliates to undertake lots of smaller but nonetheless deadly attacks is very real – hitting bars where Westerners congregate overseas, and other soft targets. In this respect, the threat is worse.
“Any places where there is very low domestic security control is an obvious target,” Fisher said.
According to Fairfax about half of the Australians fighting in Syria are believed to be members of Jabhat al-Nusra, while others have joined an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant which has strong ties to Al-Qaeda.
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