This post examines how the terrorist threat to Australia has changed since the Islamic State’s rise in 2014.
The post presents a table showing nine distinct changes to jihadist plots inside Australia before and after 2014. Jihadism refers to the violent global movement associated with al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and like-minded groups. It’s an imperfect term, as it disregards the many wider uses of the term “jihad” within Islam, but it’s a widely-recognised term and one used by these extremists themselves. This does not represent the entirety of Australia’s terrorist threat. For example, there is also the threat of far-right violent extremism.
After presenting the table, the post then discusses these changes in detail.
It shows how the Islamic State's rise and the unprecedented global reach of their influence have seen a dramatic escalation of jihadist plots in Australia. Compared to the 2000-2013 era, Australian jihadist plots have become much more frequent, been carried out by smaller cells using simpler methods, tended to use knives and firearms and often targeted police, involved more women and children among the perpetrators, and almost never involved individuals who had trained with jihadist groups abroad. The most unfortunate development is that the Islamic State era plots have been more likely to harm people, so far resulting in five deaths (not including the perpetrators) and many injuries.
Why the Islamic State's rise had such a transformative effect on Australian jihadism is discussed in the next post, Part 2.