returning foreign fighters deradicalisation
Office of the Prime Minister
Briefing note from: Senior Advisers International and National Security
We support PM&Cs proposal for a deradicalisation program for the foreign fighters returning from the MiIDle East to mitigate the risk that they will commit terrorist acts in Australia.
We do not support PM&Cs proposal to commit to refrain from further prosecution if foreign fighters successfully complete the deradicalisation program.
Summary of brief:
As discussed in the National Security Committee on 22 December 2015, with the defeat of Daesh, around 250 suspected Daesh fighters will shortly return to Australia.
We cannot prevent their return and probably cannot jail them. We can seek control orders including tracking devices and regularly reporting to security personnel. However, this is costly and will not resolve the issue.
A deradicalisation program tied to our Countering Violent Extremism program will likely mitigate the risk of terrorist acts on their return.
The program would bring together successful elements of deradicalisation programs in the UK, Spain, Italy, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
If you agree, we suggest you announce the program alongside State and Territory and community leaders.
Sensitivities: The Opposition and media are likely to portray this as being soft on terrorists. Suggest we emphasise that this is our best option, it ties in with our efforts to counter violent extremism and intelligence and police forces will be keeping a close watch on them.
To: PRIME MINISTER
|Recommendations that you:
1. Note that around 250 suspected foreign fighters will soon return to Australia.
2. Note that sufficient evidence for incarceration is unlikely to be available.
3. Note that control orders will be sought for all returning foreign fighters.
4. Agree that the Attorney?General bring forward a Cabinet submission on a deradicalisation program.
5. Agree that the deradicalisation program aim to challenge extremist interpretations of Islam, provide new social networks, employment and educational opportunities and counselling.
6. Agree that the Government will not attempt to prosecute suspected foreign fighters who have successfully completed the deradicalisation program unless they commit further terrorist acts.
7. Sign the letter at Attachment A conveying your decision to the Attorney?General.
|Prime Minister Date:|
- The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) advises that around 250 Australians suspected of fighting with Daesh (Islamic State) will shortly return to Australia following the defeat of Daesh by combined Russian, Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah forces on 22 December 2015.
- ASIO advises that those who were dual nationals renounced their non?Australian citizenship prior to departing Australia. They will retain Australian citizenship.
- The number of returning foreign fighters (RFFs) and their likely concentration in Western Sydney and South Eastern Melbourne will present a significant challenge for Australian security services.
- Due to evidence requirements, attempts at incarceration are unlikely to succeed. In any case incarceration could risk radicalising other prisoners.
- We understand the Attorney?General has sought control orders including tracking devices and regular reporting to security officials.
- Under the Criminal Code Act 1995, the Attorney?General may request that a court impose a control order in order to protect the public from a terrorist act or to prevent the provision of support for or facilitation of a terrorist act.
- To grant the control order a court must be satisfied, on balance of probabilities, that an individual has received or participated in training with Daesh, or engaged in hostile activity in a foreign country. ASIO and the Australian Government Solicitor advise that they have evidence likely to satisfy a court.
- In aIDition to control orders, we recommend a deradicalisation program. However, control orders cannot include involuntary participation in a deradicalisation program.
- It may be necessary to seek highly restrictive control orders for non?participants, as they present a greater risk and are less likely to deradicalise. Less restrictive control orders for participants would provide an incentive for participation.
- We consider the deradicalisation program would be best administered by the Attorney?Generals Department (AGD) alongside the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) so the programs can mutually reinforce each other and share lessons learnt.
- Information gained from RFFs participating in the deradicalisation program may provide insights for CVE and other counter?terrorism efforts.
- If you agree, PM&C will work with AGD on a Cabinet submission for the Attorney?General to bring forward. Key elements of the proposed program are below.
- We recommend the deradicalisation program be built around the following elements, all of which have been shown in other context to increase the likelihood that an individual will disengage from a terrorist group or deradicalise. We consider disengagement an important goal noting it may lead to deradicalisation,
- Staffing would include security officials and representatives from the Islamic community to provide positive interactions with officials and mentors. Contact with moderate thinkers and officials has been shown to encourage al?Qaeda members to disengage from that group and may increase the probability of deradicalisation.
- Regular theological discussions facilitated by Muslim chaplains committed to non?violence to question the ideology of Islamic extremists and provide new social networks the UK has successfully employed this approach in prison populations.
- Training and employment programs this appears to have been successful in Saudi Arabia and may provide access to a broader, non?violent, social network.
- Counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is likely as they may have witnessed or participated in atrocities and may lack support networks.
- A commitment not to further prosecute participants who successfully complete the program, unless they reoffend. Amnesties have significantly reduced terrorism in Spain and Italy and prosecution is unlikely to be successful in any case.
- Deradicalisation, rather than attempts to incarcerate RFFs, is likely to be controversial. We will work with your office to craft a communications strategy outlining:
- The evidence needed to incarcerate RFFs is not available and the Government cannot legally prevent them from returning to Australia.
- Deradicalisation has been successful in other countries and can reduce the risk of terrorist violence perpetrated by RFFs.
- All RFFs will be closely watched by security services.
- The Government will seek control orders for all RFFs including the requirement to wear tracking devices report to case managers.
23 December 2016
|Policy Officer: [name]
Phone no: [number]
Consultation: Domestic Security Branch, ASIO, AGD, DFAT, DIBP.
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