WA not immune from terror attacks, experts warn

Leading international relations and counter-terrorism experts claim WA is not immune from lone-wolf terrorist attacks.

Edith Cowan University international relations and counter-terrorism expert Jamal Barnes said any city could be targeted by terrorists.

“We shouldn’t be cancelling out the possibility [in WA], the risk is very low but as we have seen in Europe in the last couple of years, these attacks seem to be popping up everywhere in places people didn’t expect.

“I don’t think we need to be worried, I think to live in a state of worry or panic would be giving victory to these groups.

“That’s not to say that security officials or intelligence officials shouldn’t worry about it in Perth…  but there’s a difference between the intelligence and the police community worrying about it, and the general public worrying about it.”

Curtin University international relations and security studies expert Ben Rich said stopping lone wolf attacks was complicated.

“You basically have the issue of what signals do we look for to indicate that there will be a lone-wolf attack, it’s actually very difficult to pick something out,” he said.

“It is difficult to anticipate a lone-wolf attack because of the nature of lone wolves. They don’t have the security footprint we see with organisations which allow groups like ASIO to pick up on them.”

Dr Rich said most terrorist groups were not competent to carry out well-planned attacks, but this could change if they were better trained.

“You have guys walking into hardware stores buying suspicious amounts of peroxide which you can use to mix up an IED [improvised explosive device], they’re not exactly exercising a lot of operational security in doing that,” he said.

“So there is kind of an aggregation of both the competency of the police, the competency of our intelligence groups and the incompetency of terrorist groups.

“Obviously this could change. We did see guys come in who have a greater degree of experience and this is why we are concerned about what’s going on in Syria at the moment. Are these guys going to go over there and have a much higher level of proficiency and a more developed skill set than we’ve seen previously?

“So far we haven’t seen any indication of that becoming a reality.”