From Natasha Chaku Melbourne, Jan 19: There could be a surge in terror strikes this year as the nature of terrorism is changing from small-scale to lone-wolf attacks, a leading Australian expert has warned following last month's siege in Sydney and the recent incidents in Paris and Belgium.
Clarke Jones from Australian National University said that there was a growing concern about violent extremists and the threat of attacks.
"This year is going to be a year of terrorism in the sense that I think we are going to see more small scale attacks," he said. Jones, who is among a group of international experts, working to set up Australia's first Centre for Intervention and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE).
He said: "Terrorism is changing and over the last 12 months. Where we are today is different from where we were before, we are seeing the nature of terrorism changing."
"The individual is treated separately because there's not one pathway to radicalisation," he was quoted as saying in an ABC report. "That would involve a social worker, a psychologist, maybe a psychiatrist in some cases -- but [it would involve] trying to understand the situation and assess the level of radicalisation and work towards the other way," said Jones. He said the plan was for individuals to participate in the programmes depending on the level of radicalisation, following assessments done by psychologists and other experts.
Jones said jailing people is not a solution to the problem and will be counter-productive. "We can't just lock them away in maximum security prison, that is going to be incredibly ineffective and counter- productive," he said. Three people, including Iran-born gunman Man Haron Monis, were killed, and four others were wounded in a 16-hour hostage siege in a cafe in Sydney in December. It was followed by two recent terror incidents in Paris, where 17 people died in three days of terror, and in Belgium two terror suspects were killed in a raid last week.
Australian government, meanwhile, announced AUD 630 million to fight home-grown terrorism and AUD 13.4 million for specifically countering violent extremism. "The CVE early intervention program identifies radicalised and at-risk people and delivers a range of tailored services such as mentoring, counselling, education and employment services that will help them turn away from ideologies of violence and hate," Attorney-General George Brandis said in a statement.
The Australian Federal Police has cancelled more than 80 passports and conducted raids in an effort to stop radicalised Australians travelling overseas, or carrying out violent attacks in the country. Some Australians have joined rebel groups, including Islamic State, to fight overseas, the report said.