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Meeting on concern of renewed terror risk

Fears the fall of Afghanistan will reinvigorate religious extremist terrorism in Australia have prompted a high-level meeting of police and counterterrorism officials from across the country.

The likelihood of a terror attack in Australia remains “probable”, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews will tell a policy think tank when announcing the meeting on Monday.

Twenty years after the 9/11 terror attacks, extremism still poses a significant threat, Ms Andrews will tell the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in a virtual address to mark the anniversary.

“The changing situation in Afghanistan presents a serious concern – with the Taliban in control, Afghanistan may once again become an international safe haven for terrorist networks and cells,” she will say.

“And the very anniversary we are discussing today – perversely – serves as inspiration for some.

“Fuelled by the dark web, religiously motivated and ideologically motivated individuals and groups here in Australia do mean us harm and are planning acts of violence.”

Australia’s police and law enforcement ministers will be invited to a joint meeting to discuss the continued threat, she will announce.

Also on the agenda is reform to allow greater supervision of convicted terrorists upon their release.

It follows a terror attack in Auckland this month where after a knife-wielding extremist left seven people injured at a supermarket.

New Zealand security agencies knew the man was a threat, and he was the subject of 24/7 police surveillance.

“As we recently saw in Auckland, some individuals are so committed to doing us harm they cannot be de-radicalised,” Ms Andrews will tell the policy institute.

“And as we witnessed in the 2019 London Bridge and 2020 Streatham attacks in the United Kingdom, convicted terrorist offenders can pose a very real threat to the community at the conclusion of their sentence.”

Some 51 offenders are currently serving prison terms for terrorist offences in Australia, and another 32 are before the courts.

With several of these due for release in the next few years, Ms Andrews says effectively managing the risk posed by them will be an important focus for her.

A bill to create a new extended supervision scheme is already before the parliament.

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