Federal police have increasingly relied on once-rare tools to watch “high risk” terrorism offenders who have been released into the community.
Federal police have increasingly relied on once-rare tools to watch “high risk” terrorism offenders who have been released into the community.

Rise in terror offenders being released

A large number of terrorism offenders have been released into the community in recent years, leading to a dramatic increase in Australian Federal Police "control orders", an inquiry has heard.

Sixteen control orders related to terror offences have been applied for since the tool was made available to crime-fighting agencies in 2005, including 10 made since February 2019 and five so far this year.

Asked to explain the dramatic increase, AFP counter-terrorism assistant commissioner Scott Lee said it was a reaction to a large number of terrorism offenders released into the public in recent years.

AFP counter-terrorism assistant commissioner Scott Lee and deputy commissioner Ian McCartney during hearing at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage
AFP counter-terrorism assistant commissioner Scott Lee and deputy commissioner Ian McCartney during hearing at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage

"The increase is primarily in relation to the high-risk terrorism offender cohort who have been released from custody," Mr Lee told the inquiry in Parliament House.

Control orders are issued by courts and impose bail-like conditions on terrorism suspects or offenders such as curfews and limits on who they speak to and how they use electronic devices.

Among the offenders under control orders is DIY jihadi Bilal Khazal, who was convicted in 2009 after putting together a 112-page terrorism manual that included advice on techniques of assassination. Listed categories of targets for assassination included holders of public office in a number of countries, including Australia. He was released from prison in late August.

AFP assistant commissioner Ian McCartney said there were nine current orders, eight of which relate to the release of high-risk offenders from prison.

The ninth relates to a South Australian woman who had her conviction overturned on appeal.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is looking into whether the AFP should continue to enjoy certain terrorism fighting powers, including the use of control orders.

Originally published as Rise in terror offenders being released


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