Address to the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum

  • Speech, E&OE

Thank you Ambassador, Minister.

Colleagues and friends

Along with many of you here today, I participated in the Council session on Iraq chaired by Secretary of State John Kerry last Friday.

The level of ministerial engagement at that meeting, and what they said, made clear the international community's unity in condemning ISIL, and its ilk, and our determination to rid the world of these murderous terrorist organisations.

ISIL's atrocities against women, children, ethnic groups - in fact anyone that opposes its brutality and extremism - together with its worldwide reach with foreign fighters from over 80 countries, demands global action and cooperation.

There is now a pool of radicalised and battle hardened terrorists across Syria, Iraq and beyond that threatens not just those countries, but all of us. We need to combat this threat on every front.

The UN Security Council Summit tomorrow must demonstrate the world's unity in taking strong and targeted action against all foreign terrorist fighters. Australia supports the United States initiative. I encourage all members of this Forum to co-sponsor the Security Council resolution.

While military operations are a necessary short term measure, it is vital that we stem the flow of funds and fighters. We must starve them of resources over the long term. We need to get to work quickly on implementing the resolution, and also the 'Hague-Marrakesh Memorandum' of practices to address foreign fighters adopted today.

It will require even stronger and deeper cooperation between our security, law enforcement, intelligence and border protection agencies.

I intend to chair an open meeting of the Security Council on counter-terrorism as part of Australia's Presidency of the Council in November that will build on the initiatives taken this week.

I expect States to use that meeting to update the international community on their measures. We will identify further steps to improve cooperation, and practices that are effective, including the practices adopted by this Forum.

Australia's strategy is to prevent people who pose a security risk from leaving our country, and to take responsibility for our citizens poisoned by this barbaric ideology. We estimate around 160 Australians are fighting with or supporting ISIL – a fraudulent organisation that neither represents Islam nor is a State.

Last week, Australian law enforcement agencies interdicted the planning and execution of terrorist acts in our country by a group inspired by ISIL.

We are strengthening our laws. We are spending an additional $630 million to boost intelligence, law enforcement, border protection, customs, and passport capability. We have bolstered our counter-terrorism capability at every international airport in Australia to intercept the flow of foreign fighters.

In December, Australia will bring together law enforcement and airline industry representatives from across the region to discuss ways to strengthen travel systems and intelligence sharing to prevent foreign terrorist fighters from boarding flights.

The phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters has brought into sharper focus the need to address extremism in our communities.

Australia is investing in new outreach programmes to counter violent extremism, including working with parents, religious leaders, youth and healthcare professionals. We have to fathom why our young people are willing to become suicide bombers and take up arms with murderers and barbarians.

This Forum's Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund will be crucial in enabling communities across the world to turn the tide of extremism. I announce today that Australia will contribute $1.5 million to support this Fund.

Preventing kidnapping for ransom by terrorists must remain a key focus of this Forum.

At least $125 million has been paid to Al Qaida groups in the last five years. This financing undermines all our hard work to degrade these brutal organisations.

UN Security Council resolution 2133 and this Forum's 'Algiers Memorandum' of practices to prevent kidnapping for ransom by terrorists provides the global framework. But we must do more to stop the practice of paying ransoms. It is being used to finance terrorist organisations and escalates the problem. We must double our efforts to prevent hostages from being taken.

Australia is also partnering with our longstanding friend and neighbour Indonesia to co-chair the 'Detention and Reintegration Working Group'.

In Bali last month, the working group endorsed a strategy over the next two years to overcome the challenges associated with the detention, rehabilitation and re-integration of prisoners convicted and sentenced for terrorist related offences.

Prisons are fertile ground for radicalisation and recruitment. We must prevent our prisons from being incubators for further extremism, through proper management of prisoners and their rehabilitation.


Terrorists today are younger, more mobile, more brutally violent, and more adept at exploiting online technologies to spread their propaganda and to collect funds.

No matter how complex the task; we must be at least a step ahead.

Our fundamental duty to protect our citizens from this brutal ideology depends upon our collective willingness to act.

Australia is willing.

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