Oz ASIO warns expats and tourists over terrorism threat in Southeast Asia

Published:  3 Mar at 6 PM
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Australia’s Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is warning expats and tourists in Southeast Asia to be aware of expanding terrorism threats in the region.

ASIO director general Duncan Lewis believes Australian nationals as well as expats and tourists are especially at risk of falling victim to terrorist attacks in Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, citing ISIL’s growing influence in the region and the large number of Oz expats holidaying, living and working in the three named countries. The anti-terrorist organisation estimates around 600 nationals from the named states are know to have joined terrorism groups in Iraq and Syria.

According to Lewis, now that ISIL is being driven out of its former strongholds, many terrorists may decide to return to their home countries, increasing the risk of local attacks. The director’s comments formed part of a detailed briefing to members of the Australian press on the subject of domestic and international terror attacks and included data stating that 84 Australians had been killed in the Middle East war against terrorism, with 87 per cent of the dead aged under 30.

Australian police are at present investigating some 200 persons with links to 100 Australians fighting with ISIL groups in Iraq and Syria. The majority of the foreign fighters being investigated by intelligence agencies are men under 35 years of age. Around 70 children are known to have travelled to the conflict zones with their parents, or to have been born there.

Attempts to anticipate possible attacks by returning ISIL fighters are now in place in the country, with 195 passports having being cancelled and 38 suspended, preventing the owners from travelling. Lewis believes ISIL still exerts influence outside its two main base countries and is encouraging and inspiring attacks world-wide. In Australia, he said, ever-younger groups are being targeted as recruits, with many prepared to carry out lone wolf attacks on Australian citizens. ISIL’s main targets, he added, are disaffected and vulnerable young would-be radicals.
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