With foreign fighters returning home and the terror threat increasing, leading authorities have joined forces in Melbourne to discuss the prevention of mass-casualty attacks.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on December 11, 2017

Counter-terrorism experts from around the world will meet in Melbourne today for a three-day summit focused on the theme of Global Terrorism Prevention.

The Leadership in Counter Terrorism (LinCT) International Counter Terrorism Forum will be hosted by Victoria Police, and will see law enforcement personnel, government officials and academics from the UK, US, Canada, France, New Zealand, Singapore and Belgium “meet and discuss” their experiences to better position authorities to combat the threat of mass-casualty attacks.

The ability to meet and discuss our experiences in an ever evolving counter terrorism landscape is exceptionally beneficial.

It is a timely conference for Australian police, with Assistant Commissioner Ross Guenther, the head of counter-terrorism command, revealing the nation is more susceptible to a terrorist attack at this time of the year.

“If you look at the number of disruptions over the past couple of years and when they have occurred, you will see that escalation towards the end of the year,” he told The Australian.

In a statement, Mr Guenther said the sharing of information is vital in the war against terror.

“The reality is that terrorism is very much a global threat, hence the theme of the forum this year,” he said.

“We also recognise that this is something that no single organisation can combat alone and the ability to meet and discuss our experiences in an ever evolving counter terrorism landscape is exceptionally beneficial.”

Iraq defeats ISIS

The forum follows news that Iraq has declared victory over ISIS.

Iraqi prime minister Haider Al-Abadi trumpeted the result via Twitter over the weekend, saying: “Our heroic armed forces have now secured the entire length of the Iraq-Syria border.

“We defeated Daesh (ISIS) through our unity and sacrifice for the nation. Long live Iraq and its people.”

And while the result is being hailed around the world, Mr Guenther has warned that the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing body, involving Australia, New Zealand, the US, UK and Canada, is alert to the likelihood that the return of defeated foreign fighters will enhance the risk of retaliation on the home front.

“Their concern is that the tempo will increase. As people return across the borders, that risk is going to escalate,” he said.

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the same after Iraq’s announcement on Sunday.

“While today’s announcement by the Iraqi government is an historic moment, Iraq’s liberation does not mean the fight against terrorism and ISIS in Iraq is over,” they said in a joint statement.