Australian Institute of Criminology

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Financing of terrorism remains a security risk for Australia

Media Release

17 May 2010

Australia needs to continue its efforts to gather financial intelligence and to engage with communities to counter the financing of terrorism, according to the latest report from the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC).

Financing of terrorism: Risks for Australia reveals that while Australia has been relatively quarantined from the effects of large-scale organised terrorist activities which have occurred overseas, it is at risk of being a location from which funds for such activities may be drawn.

Since 2001, more than 100 Australians have been killed in terrorist attacks overseas and numerous other attacks have been thwarted in Australia.

According to AIC Principal Criminologist, Dr Russell Smith, terrorism can be financed through the diversion of funds gathered in legitimate activities such as the collection of membership fees or charitable donations, or through profits derived from illegal activities such as drug trafficking, extortion and financial crime.

Dr Smith said a number of well-publicised cases had already been prosecuted in Australia involving the financial support of overseas groups such as the Tamil Tigers, and groups in Sydney and Melbourne planning terrorist attacks within Australia.

"Since 2001, 20 people have been convicted of terrorism offences in Australia, while more than 40 Australians have had their passports revoked or applications denied for reasons related to terrorism," he said.

"As is the case with anti-money laundering, financial intelligence has greatly contributed to successful prosecution outcomes and will continue to play an important role in counter-terrorism investigations in the future."

In 2008-09, 28 reports were made to Australia's Financial Intelligence Unit, AUSTRAC, of transactions thought to involve the financing of terrorism.

"By engaging with, and educating those at risk of intentionally or inadvertently funding terrorist organisations, we can also counteract radicalisation within the community and reduce the risks of terrorist attacks in Australia and overseas."

AIC media contact: Caterina Giugovaz Telephone: 02 6260 9226; Mobile: 0418 221 798.