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 National Terrorism Threat Advisory System

Australia's current National Terrorism Threat Level is PROBABLE.

this diagram is showing the yellow probable threat level logo 

The National Terrorism Threat Advisory System is a scale of five levels to provide advice about the likelihood of an act of terrorism occurring in Australia:

This text diagram shows the five threat levels and their associated colours: not expected (green), possible (blue), probable (yellow), expected (orange) and certain (red) When the threat level changes, the Australian Government provides advice on what the threat level means, where the threat is coming from, potential targets and how a terrorist act may be carried out.

The National Terrorism Threat Level is regularly reviewed in line with the security environment and intelligence.

It is important to be aware of the current threat level and to report any suspicious incidents to the National Security Hotline on 1800 1234 00.

More information is available in the following fact sheet:

The Australian security environment

Australia's National Terrorism Threat Level remains PROBABLE. Credible intelligence, assessed by our security agencies, indicates that individuals or groups continue to possess the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia. The public should continue to exercise caution and report any suspicious incidents to the National Security Hotline by calling 1800 123 400. Life-threatening situations should be reported to the police by calling Triple Zero (000).

International terrorist groups have proven adept at using their extremist ideology to motivate individuals or small groups to use violence in their home countries. Individuals in Australia can be influenced directly by overseas-based extremists as well as by broad propaganda which provides inspiration and encouragement for terrorist attacks onshore. External influence has been a feature of several prevented terrorism plots and attacks in Australia and also in terrorist incidents across Europe, the United States and Asia.

The terrorist threat in Australia remains escalated: one attack and five disrupted terrorist plots so far in 2016 demonstrate the fluid nature of attack planning and reinforces the threat from lone actors. Australia and Australians are viewed as legitimate targets and those who wish to do us harm believe they have an ideological justification to conduct attacks.

Terrorism in Australia

The violent ideology of Sunni Islamist terrorist groups—such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Qa'ida—continues to appeal to a small number of people in Australia. These groups use the power of the internet to provide their propaganda to an existing audience and also aim it at those susceptible to radicalisation. The body of broad propaganda continues to grow. Some releases specifically celebrate terrorist attacks overseas while others feature tailored messaging that references specific countries—Australia has been specifically mentioned in ISIL's online magazines, most recently in early September 2016. While a single piece of propaganda is unlikely to be the sole catalyst for an onshore attack, these publications add to a large and existing body of material that encourages terrorism. The impact of even a single person willing to use violence is clearly evident in the terrorist attacks that have occurred in Australia since 2014.

The preeminent terrorist threat in Australia is from Islamist extremist individuals or small groups who use simple attack methodologies that enable them to act independently and with a high degree of agility. The simple nature of these attacks means preparation may not involve activity that is concerning enough to come to the attention of authorities—meaning there is no guarantee of early detection or disruption. Many Islamist lone actor attacks aim to inflict maximum casualties and attackers often desire to be killed during their attack. Some recent overseas attacks have been perpetrated by small groups and featured multiple attackers and targets; while more complex, these attacks still used relatively simple weapons and tactics.

The lone actor threat is not confined to Islamist extremists. Individuals motivated by other ideological agendas could also consider conducting an act of terrorism; the August 2016 arrest and subsequent terrorism-related charges against a right-wing lone actor in Melbourne reinforces this threat.

Terrorist targeting

While the symbolic appeal of an attack against a government or authority—such as the military, police and security agencies—elevates the threat to these entities, members of the public could also be attacked indiscriminately. Attacks against the general public are designed to cause injury or death and are aimed at disrupting our lives and causing fear; even a simple attack can meet this objective. This is why it is important for the public to maintain a level of awareness and to report any suspicious activity immediately to authorities—www.nationalsecurity.gov.au provides information on what to report and how to report it.

Terrorist weapons and tactics

While the most likely form of terrorism in Australia remains an attack by an individual or small group, the possibility of coordinated attacks against multiple targets—as seen in recent attacks overseas—cannot be ruled out.

A terrorist attack in Australia would probably use weapons and tactics that are low-cost and relatively simple, including basic weapons, explosives and/or firearms. Basic weapons are readily available, everyday objects that do not require specialist skills. Terrorists have used basic weapons such as knives, machetes or vehicles to conduct lethal attacks. Explosives remain a favoured terrorist weapon globally and can be manufactured from readily available materials. Improvised explosive devices do not need to be large to be effective and can be easily concealed. Firearms can be sourced through legal and illicit channels.

Our response

Federal, state and territory governments continue to focus on strengthening preventative efforts in partnership with industry and building Australia's social cohesion, together with the community.

  • Governments are working closely with communities to prevent terrorism, combat terrorist propaganda online and promote early intervention programmes.
  • Federal, state and territory authorities have well-tested cooperative arrangements in place and have adopted appropriate security measures.
  • Police and security agencies liaise closely with critical infrastructure owners and operators.

In the current environment, Australians should go about their daily business as usual but should exercise caution and be aware of events immediately around them.

If you see, hear or become aware of something suspicious or unusual, call the National Security Hotline on 1800 1234 00. Every call is important and could prevent a terrorist attack in Australia.

Local advice

See the following websites for information specific to your state/territory:

See the Frequently asked questions page for answers to some general questions about national security.

Overview of the National Terrorism Threat Advisory System