The West is facing a more powerful terrorism threat now than in the lead-up to 9/11 because of the Middle East’s current political and economic uncertainty, according to one of Australia’s top security analysts.
Research director at thinktank, The Lowy Institute for International Policy, Anthony Bubalo says the region’s many conflicts have galvanised international extremism and provided an environment in which “a whole new generation of jihadists is being re-tooled and re-trained”.
Mr Bubalo argues that the current turmoil in the Middle East is incubating a new generation of jihadists, he says in many respects the current conditions in the region are worse than those that saw the emergence of radical groups like al-Qaeda.
Mr Bubalo says that Australia will need to properly sustain its counter terrorism efforts in years to come, in light of the number of Australians taking part in wars around the globe. He says there is an immediate threat from foreign fighters returning from the Syrian civil war both to Australia and Indonesia with military skills and extremist connections ::::
Mr Bubalo has released a paper on the new terror threat entitled Next-gen Jihad In The Middle East. Anthony Bubalo says the region’s many conflicts have galvanised international extremism and provided an environment in which “a whole new generation of jihadists is being re-tooled and re-trained”.
“The people who launched 9/11 didn’t just suddenly appear on the 10th of September. They were the result of conditions and circumstances that had been developing in the Middle East over a decade and a half,” Mr Bubalo said.
Domestic unrest in Syria, Egypt and Libya, as well as a rise in the number of ungoverned regions, has given jihadists new environments in which to flourish, Mr Bubalo warns.
“The concern is that the sheer number of conflicts in the region [and] the nature of the economic situation will produce a large pool of extremists that will then go on, as they did in the past, to find other conflicts to fight once the conflicts in their own region are exhausted,” Mr Bubalo said. “The worst-case scenario is that we will see over the next decade the incubation and the creation of a large pool of jihadists that will regain a lot of the military skills and regain a lot of the linkages that jihadist groups lost in the decade after 9/11.”
Key Points of Mr Bubalo’s Report:
- The conflict in Syria has become a magnet for foreign fighters, including Australians. This should be the immediate focus of Australian counter terrorism agencies.
- But developments in the broader Middle East, including in Egypt, are also creating conditions for the reemergence of terrorist groups that could once again threaten the West.
- Australia needs to supplement its current efforts to monitor developments in the region by appointing a special envoy or coordinator for the Middle East.
Mr Bubalo says there is an immediate threat from foreign fighters returning from the Syrian civil war both to Australia and Indonesia with military skills and extremist connections.
A former Australian soldier was recently killed while fighting alongside rebels in Syria, while several other Australians have been killed while fighting for factions within the rebel movement.
It is believed there are dozens more Australians and Indonesians fighting in the war-torn nation, and that some have reached senior positions in extremist Islamic groups.
“Australia and Indonesia will need to work together to ensure that any threats that emanate from the Middle East don’t transfer to direct threats either in Indonesia or Australia,” Mr Bubalo said.
He also warned the Government not to become complacent in monitoring the threat from terrorism emanating from the Middle East.
“We have to continue to focus our intelligence and diplomatic efforts in the region to understand what is a very dynamic and very rapidly evolving situation,” he said.
SOURCE! Next-Gen Jihad in the Middle East via Lowy Institute
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