Australia, US sign new anti-terrorism deal
A NEW counter-terrorism agreement signed between the US and Australia shows that the threat of extremism at home and abroad remains real and more global cooperation is needed, senior government figures say.
A new counter-terrorism agreement signed between the US and Australia shows that the threat of extremism at home and abroad remains real and more global cooperation is needed, senior government figures say.
The US Secretary for Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, the Australian Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, and Justice Minister Jason Clare signed joint statements in Canberra on Friday on transnational crime and counter-terrorism.
The agreements came as papers seized from the Pakistan compound of Osama bin Laden were publicly released, documenting the late terrorist leader’s ambition for further attacks on the “malignant tree” of the US and its allies.
Ms Napolitano said the papers spoke for themselves.
“I think we all recognise that Osama bin Laden’s death was a significant event and a significant degradement in al-Qaeda’s capabilities, but certainly not the end of those capabilities nor the end of terrorism writ large,” she told reporters in Canberra.
“As we look forward we realise that we are living in a world of a continuing terrorist threat.”
Ms Roxon said the risk of home-grown terrorism was “real” and counter-terrorism authorities had been able to foil Australian-based plots.
“It’s something that is a small risk, but has deadly consequences,” she said.
Under the statement on countering transnational crime, terrorism and violent extremism, the two countries will be able to share law enforcement data and expand the current information sharing on extremists and radical groups.
Ms Roxon said criminal and terrorist groups were increasingly using the internet, which made it all the more important to cooperate globally.
Ms Napolitano said the statements on collaborative targeting and supply-chain security would be important in fighting the global drug trade.
Mr Clare said 96 per cent of detections of drugs at Australia’s border were as a result of shared intelligence, and law enforcement agencies had advised the government that “the more intelligence law enforcement has, the more illegal goods they can seize and the more criminals they can arrest”.
The two countries would now be better able to target and risk-assess cargo and passengers as a result of the joint statements, he said.
Australia and the US have also agreed to look at ways to make travel between the two countries easier using electronic passport checks.
This would cut down customs waiting times in both countries.
The attorney-general said Australians’ personal information shared with US authorities would be covered by privacy protections under Australian law. - AAP
IMAGE: US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano (left) shakes hands with the Australian Attorney General Nicola Roxon (right) in Canberra, Friday, May 4, 2012. Ms Napolitano and Ms Roxon signed joint statements on the topics of transnational crime and countering violent extremism. (AAP Image/Alan Porritt)