Australian police are beefing up security measures ahead of Christmas, the country’s newspapers report. Australia’s intelligence agencies are treating Christmas as the ‘peak terror season’ as they step up efforts to thwart a potential Islamist terror attack.
The country’s senior counter-terrorism official described the Christmas season as the “most dangerous time of the year,” a media report said. Authorities have good reason to stay on high alert. Two ISIS-inspired terror attacks have already taken place this year.
Melbourne has set up as many as 90 loudspeakers across the city to warn people during a terrorist attacks, along with bollards around the city center against vehicle-ramming attacks – a preferred Islamist terror tactic.
The security assessment is based on the spike in Jihadi activities around Christmas in recent years, combined with the growing number of Islamic terrorists returning from Syria and Iraq following major territorial losses to the caliphate in that region since President Donald Trump took office.
“Each year, the suspected terrorist activity and tempo of counter-terrorism operations have escalated towards the end of the year,” reported The Australian, country’s leading newspaper, on Monday.
The Australian reported further:
Australia is entering peak terror season, with frontline police and security agencies reporting an increase in operational tempo as they work to disrupt possible attacks targeting Christmas events in Melbourne and Sydney over the next three weeks.
Victoria Police’s officer in charge of counter-terrorism, assistant commissioner Ross Guenther, said the pattern of recently foiled terror attacks showed the holiday period was the most dangerous time of the year in Australia and Europe.
As Iraq and Russia formally declared victory against Islamic State in the Middle East, Mr Guenther warned that the conventional defeat of the terrorist group would heighten the risk of attacks from jihadi fighters returning home from the conflict zone.
“With the dissipation of the caliphate, there is a broad perception that our risk is going to drop,’’ Commissioner Guenther told The Australian.
“I don’t think that is the case and that is not what the Five Eyes are seeing. Their concern is that the tempo will increase. As people return across the borders, that risk is going to escalate.’’
Counter-terrorism experts from the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network of Australia, the US, New Zealand, Canada and Britain will today gather in Melbourne to discuss the terrorist threat and the latest insights into how to prevent and respond to mass-casualty attacks. (...)
Australia’s largest city Sydney suffered an Islamist terror attack during the Christmas season three years ago. In December 2014, an armed Jihadi attacked a café in Sydney. The terrorist killed two hostages during the siege that lasted 16 hours.
Australian intelligence agencies have foiled at least 14 terror attacks in the three years since. A drastic increase in the migrant Muslim population has also fueled Islamic terrorism in the country. Islam is now the second largest religion in the country. According to the national census carried out last year, the Muslim population in Australia has risen to 600,000, an increase of 80 percent compared with the demographic figures ten years ago.