David Irvine, the head of the Australian domestic spy agency ASIO, is considering raising the country’s terror warning level to high. It seems that Victorian Chief of Police, Ken Lay, agrees with him. Mr Lay feels that the risk of a terrorist attack on home soil, in conjunction with ongoing unrest in the Middle East, is at a 13-year high.
“There is no doubt that there are some concerns about what is happening in the Middle East, and some Australians who have been there and are coming back,” Mr Lay told Fairfax Radio today. “I think it is probably an appropriate time to have a think about the [threat] level at the moment.
“The risks are probably as high as they have been since September 11.”
A medium level terror threat means an attack is possible, while a high alert means that agencies believe an attack is likely. This is not good news at the best of times, but with the AFL Grand Final and the Melbourne Cup Carnival just around the corner, the risk of a terror attack is even more worrisome to Victorians, but Mr Lay feels there is “no indication at all of a threat to any specific event in Melbourne,” which may provide some level of relief.
Australia’s recent involvement in arming the Kurdish opponents of Islamic State (IS) in Iraq is not believed to be contributing to the elevated terror threat.
“That’s a sort of a popular line that you hear, but the fact is that Australia has been named as a terrorist target in Al Qaeda publications and the like for a number of years,” Mr Irvine said.
“So we do have to be concerned.”
Mr Irvine also believes we are fortunate not to have suffered an attack on our shores as yet and credited security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies for their work in keeping us safe.
He added: “We cannot give you absolute guarantees that we can remain as protected as we’ve fortunately been so far…”
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We may have been lucky not to have experienced the direct threat of terror on our shores, but our involvement in the Iraq and Syria crises would surely place us in the crosshairs of IS militants and terrorists. For our intelligence agencies to say otherwise seems dishonest. If your neighbour gave your enemy a big stick to hit you with, wouldn’t you be more inclined to be annoyed at that neighbour for doing so? Come on Mr Irvine, you’re not kidding anyone.
I don’t agree with arming the enemies of our enemies, because as history has shown time and again, those enemies more often than not, will eventually become our enemies as well. Afghanistan is an obvious example. These issues are contentious and may have no ideal resolution. What seems to be missing nowadays is the mention of diplomacy or peaceful resolutions. Who is listening to the underlying issues and the reasons we are in these situations in the first place?
It may be easy for some to criticise the government for sending arms to the Kurds in Iraq and to criticise Mr Abbott for blindingly following the American ‘alpha’. The threat of terrorism is very real and it seems that it’s been this way for some years now. I can honestly say that I’m not sure what I would do in his shoes. It does seem though, that the idea of a diplomatic resolution has been thrown out the window in favour of military intervention.
Is it too late for diplomacy? Are you afraid of a terrorist attack in Australia? Does supplying arms to the Kurds put us in danger? What do you think?