The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times
By Dylan Welch
Two of Australia's top national security officials have said the death of Osama bin Laden will not stop the growth of global terrorism, with a new generation of young men radicalised by the internet and new ideologues in countries such as Yemen and Somalia.
In addresses at a Sydney summit discussing the decade since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and hosted by the United States Studies Centre, the men say the fight is far from over.
''The trail [will not] end; it will wind and fork in different directions, testing our counter-terrorism measures,'' Allan Gyngell, the director-general of Australia's chief intelligence assessment agency, the Office of National Assessments, said yesterday.
''As in the past, our failure to anticipate future change will usually turn out to be a failure of imagination.''
In a speech this morning, Attorney-General Robert McClelland is to discuss how in the years after 2001 the West focused too much on tough terrorism laws and security measures instead of understanding why people became attracted to radical ideology.
''A comprehensive counter-terrorism response needed to include broader strategies to lessen the appeal of extremist ideologies that fuel terrorism in the first place - the need to not only be tough on terrorism, but tough on the causes of terrorism,'' he will say, according to a draft provided to The Age.
Since 2000, four terrorist plots with the potential to cause mass casualties in Australia have been disrupted by Australian law enforcement and national security agencies.
In that same period, 23 people have been convicted on charges relating to terrorism plots, and 38 charged.
''Significantly, 37 of the 38 people prosecuted are Australian citizens and 21 of the 38 were born in Australia,'' Mr McClelland will say.
Mr Gyngell said: ''Geographic distance means less than it did in the 20th century ... cyber-threats can emanate from anywhere, fragile states and ungoverned spaces still need to be watched and tended.''
He named countries such as Yemen and Somalia as places increasingly of concern to counterterrorism experts.
Nor would the recent death of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden bring an end to terrorist activities here and overseas, he said.
''Osama bin Laden's death is an ending of sorts, but not a big one.''
Both men also place emphasis on the increasing role in the past decade of cyber-espionage - online theft and spying by foreign intelligence agents. The problem has risen to represent one of the greatest threats to national security.
''The next 10 years will undoubtedly see a marked intensification of this activity,'' Mr McClelland will say.
Since 2001 the Australian government has almost doubled the annual amount spent on national security, increasing it from $18 billion to $33 billion across 10 budgets since 2001.