Sectarian-related security concerns in Australia are not entirely new, but the current issues surrounding Australians fighting in Syria and Iraq are qualitatively different, argues this paper.
Neither the presence of Australian foreign fighters overseas nor sectarian-related security concerns in Australia are entirely new to this country. However, the current issues surrounding Australian jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq are qualitatively different. These foreign fighters have a simplistic worldview that divides the world into those who believe and those that don’t, and seeks the establishment of an Islamic state that is at best a chimera. They represent a security threat to Australia. The Australian Government has instituted a series of preventative programs and punitive measures to dissuade would-be fighters, but despite this their numbers have grown. Islamic community leaders have been slow to respond to the ideological threat in a timely, unequivocal and appropriate manner compared to those advocating jihad. Australia’s Muslim leaders need to understand and a cknowledge the nature of the threat, the ways in which their youth are being influenced, and to be more proactive, focused and public in their construction and dissemination of a counter-narrative.