Malcolm Turnbull says Australians should be ‘very alert’ after IS call for lone wolf attacks
By South-East Asia correspondent Liam Cochrane in Vientiane
“We have a threat level of ‘probable’, so it is a real threat”: PM Malcolm Turnbull on the possibility of terror attacks in Australia after an online magazine called for prominent places like Bondi Beach and the Sydney Opera House to be targeted.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says recent calls for terrorist attacks at Australian landmarks should be taken seriously.
- Malcolm Turnbull says threat of ‘lone actor’ terrorists has to be taken seriously
- PM is in Laos, where security is high as leaders gather for ASEAN summit
- South China Sea, North Korea will also be focus of talks
An Islamic State propaganda magazine has called for ‘lone wolf’ attacks at locations in Sydney and Melbourne.
Flashback to Turncoat’s Islamic Howlers
Back in 2011, on 28 February, Malcolm Turnbull, now Australia’s Prime Minister, had this to say about Islam on Q&A:
Islam is an ancient religion, of great scholarship. I mean — for heavens sake — much of our learning and culture came to us from the Muslims, just like, you know, our whole system of numbers and much of the learning of the ancient Greeks only survived because of the Arab scholars and the Islamic scholars.
So, you know, the idea that Islam is antithetical to learning or culture or scholarship is absurd. Now, you know, it’s a great tradition. It is important for us that we promote and encourage Islam and Islamic traditions which are moderate, which support freedom, which support democracy and which support Australian values — not in the sense of “Aussie values” — but in the sense of democracy, rule of law, tolerance, freedom. That’s what we’re talking about and they are universal values.
The threats have been played down by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and by the state’s police commissioner but not by the Prime Minister, who said recent attacks around the world showed the danger of so-called lone wolf terrorists.
Speaking in Laos, Mr Turnbull said the calls for violence in Australia represented desperation on the part of the Islamic extremists.
“As Daesh (Islamic State) comes under more and more pressure on the battlefield in Syria and in Iraq — as it is rolled back, as its territory is being taken back — it will resort to terrorist activities outside of the Middle East,” he said.
“The capacity of Daesh, of course, is much less than they proclaim it to be.
“But we do have to be very alert to the actions of these lone actors — individuals who, as I’ve described in the national security statement last week, for a variety of reasons, may be radicalised.
“(They are) often associated with mental illness, frankly, can be radicalised very quickly and engage in very destructive, lethal conduct, as we saw in Nice, for example.”
Extra security as Asian leaders converge on city
Mr Turnbull, who is in Laos for regional talks about security and economic ties, said regional cooperation was needed to keep Australians safe from extremist violence.
Laos’s capital Vientiane, has an extra layer of security for the big name guests attending the South-East Asian and East Asian summits.
US President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang are in the city for the talks, which start today.
“This is the premier forum for discussing and resolving issues of national security, economic security in our region. So I’m very pleased to be here,” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Turnbull said the recent missile tests by North Korea would be a key issue.
“These represent continued destabilising, dangerous and provocative conduct,” he said.
Mr Turnbull’s visit has also included a coffee stop at a local cafe, owned by a Laotian who worked as a barista in Sydney.
The cafe even created a special ‘Prime Minister’s Blend’ for the occasion.
South China Sea conflict a key issue of ASEAN summit
The ASEAN summit is also likely to focus on the conflict over the South China Sea.
Five ASEAN member states have overlapping claims with China and tensions have been rising in an important sea channel that sees $5 trillion worth of trade pass through each year.
A recent court ruling at the Hague found that China has no legal basis for its claim over the Scarborough shoal.
But Beijing’s allies — Cambodia, Laos and Brunei — have ensured that a draft communique does not contain any reference to that ruling, and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not be raising the decision at ASEAN.
But then Mr Duterte is known for his crass, off-the-cuff comments, including calling Mr Obama a “son of a whore” recently — adding an element of volatility to these often staid summits.