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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 123 400.

More information is available in the following fact sheet:

The Australian security environment

Australia’s general terrorism threat level remains at PROBABLE. Credible intelligence, assessed by our security agencies, indicates that individuals or groups have the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia.

While COVID-19 has caused social and economic challenges around the world and in Australia, it has not greatly changed the threat from terrorism.

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).

The threat of religiously motivated violent extremism from Sunni violent extremist groups persists, with the violent narrative espoused by terrorist groups—such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and al-Qa‘ida—continuing to inspire attacks globally, including in Australia. However, people motivated by other forms of violent extremism—including ideologically motivated violent extremism, and specifically nationalist and racist violent extremism—are also increasingly present in Australia. Nationalist and racist violent extremists are more active than in previous years and pose a serious threat to Australian security.

Densely populated cities, such as Sydney and Melbourne, remain the places most exposed to the terrorist threat; but the threat is not confined to major cities and an attack could occur elsewhere.

Those willing to use violence in Australia may be influenced by overseas-based violent extremists as well as by an increasing body of propaganda that seeks to radicalise, recruit, encourage and instruct on conducting terrorist attacks. Terrorist propaganda often exploits topical issues in the media—some of it glorifies past terrorist attacks, advocating particular methods and tactics, or urges the targeting of iconic locations or people in Australia.

Such messaging is drawing a younger audience that is accessing this material online. Violent extremists continue to use the internet and other technology—including readily available encrypted messaging applications and online message boards—to facilitate their activities. The anonymous and secure nature of these platforms pose challenges to intelligence and law enforcement agencies that are trying to stop terrorist attacks.

Despite the restrictions on travel as a result of COVID-19, international violent extremist groups have drawn people to travel overseas to train and fight, and some groups have motivated others to use violence in their home countries. Australians who have joined violent extremist groups overseas could become a security threat if they return to Australia. After serving long prison sentences for terrorism offences, a number of individuals are due for release in the coming years. The enduring power of violent extremist ideologies means that some may seek to re-engage in violent extremist behaviours when they return to the community.

Terrorist targeting

Terrorists in Australia and around the world are attracted by the symbolic appeal of attacking government and authorities—such as the military, police and security agencies. But terrorists also continue to attack the general public, and crowded places more broadly, here in Australia and overseas. When terrorists attack the general public, they aim to disrupt our lives and cause fear, and even a low-capability attack can achieve this.

It is important for the public to stay aware 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 a single person or a small group using simple attack methodologies, more sophisticated attacks also remain possible.

Any attacks planned in Australia for at least the next 12 months are likely to use weapons and tactics that are low-cost and relatively simple. These include basic weapons, explosives and firearms. Basic weapons are everyday objects that do not need special skills to use as weapons, such as knives and vehicles. Explosives remain a favoured terrorist weapon; but firearms can be acquired by terrorists through both legal and illicit channels, and have previously been used in Australian terrorist attacks.

Terrorist methodologies continue to evolve, and new and innovative weapons and tactics may emerge.

Our response

Governments are working closely with communities to prevent terrorism, combat online violent extremist propaganda and promote early intervention programs.

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 —while adhering to COVID-19 restrictions—but should exercise caution and be aware of events around them. If you see, hear or become aware of something suspicious or unusual, call the National Security Hotline on 1800 123 400. 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

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