Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, painted a grim picture of the threat posed by modern terrorists in a speech delivered to a meeting of the United Nations Security Council.
Chairing the meeting this week, Bishop said there was no more pressing matter of national and international security for Australia than reducing the threat of terrorism.
Fifteen countries were represented at the council meeting, including delegates from Saudi Arabia, Syria and Pakistan, who all also addressed the gathering.
“The threat from Isil, or Daesh, al-Nusra Front, and other al-Qaeda affiliated groups is more dangerous, more global and more diversified than ever before,” Bishop said.
“Terrorists are younger, more violent, more innovative and highly interconnected.
“They are masters of social media to terrorise, and to recruit, and are very tech-savvy.
“They incite each other. They communicate their propaganda and violence directly into our homes to recruit disaffected young men and women.”
Using the example of 17-year-old Melbourne-born Adam Dahman “who grew up in a typical Australian household and played sport for his local high school” and the three Succarieh brothers from Brisbane, the foreign minister warned that these boys did not fit the stereotypical terrorist profile.
“Recently he [Dahman] travelled to Iraq and detonated his explosives vest in a suicide bomb attack in a Baghdad market place, injuring more than 90 people,” Bishop said.
“Young people, like the three brothers from Brisbane; one became Australia’s first known suicide bomber, killing himself and 35 others at a military checkpoint in Syria. The second is currently fighting with al-Nusra. The third was stopped by Australian authorities before he got on a plane to join them.”
Stating that some countries failed to “adequately criminalise” travel by terrorists through their territory on the way to other countries, Raimonda Murmokaite, chairwoman of the UN’s counter-terrorism committee, added that a very serious stance should be taken on this matter.
Murmokaite highlighted gaps in the international exchange of information between law enforcement and intelligence agencies which hamper attempts to bring terrorists to justice, and that some states did not use available Interpol databases at border crossings.
Australia’s ambassador to the UN, Gary Quinlan, who is also the chairman of the UN’s al-Qaeda sanctions committee, recommended measures to tackle terrorist groups’ ability to raise money by selling antiquities looted in Syria and Iraq.
“A comprehensive approach is needed that properly integrates UN strategies with multilateral and national action,” Quinlan said.
On Thursday, Bishop rebuked President Barack Obama’s comments about the Great Barrier Reef, made during his landmark speech at the University of Queensland on the sidelines of the Brisbane G20 summit.
In the speech, Obama said he hoped more would be done to ensure the survival of world famous reef, in the face of global warming, so it would still be there for his children and grand children to enjoy in 50 years time and beyond.
“There was an issue regarding his statement about the Great Barrier Reef, and I can understand the Queensland government’s concern because we have committed significant resources to preserve and conserve the reef,” Bishop told the ABC’s 7:30 programme..
“We have demonstrated world’s best practice … to ensure the Great Barrier Reef is preserved for generations to come.”
IMAGE: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop presiding over a United Nations United Nations Security Council meeting on counter-terrorism in New York, 19 November, 2014. (Credit: DFAT/Trevor Collens)