Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF) Ministerial Meeting

  • Speech, check against delivery
20 September 2017


In the 12 months since we last met in this forum, terrorism continues to spread and strike at the hearts of our societies.

Terrorism continues to constitute a major threat to global security.

Local forces, supported by a broad coalition of countries, have liberated nearly 5 million people from ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

However the fight against ISIS and its warped ideology is not over – more is required to defeat this scourge.

It continues to direct and inspire attacks internationally. Recently Australian security and intelligence agencies uncovered an ISIS-inspired plot to bring down an Etihad flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi. Had the plans eventuated, it could have been catastrophic. It was through the exchange of information and intelligence among a number of partners that enabled us to dismantle the terrorist cell that sought to perpetrate such an act.

The fact that ISIS held large swathes of territory for so long has raised the expectations of extremist groups elsewhere, that they too can establish caliphates.

The Marawi City siege by ISIS-affiliated extremists in the southern Philippines is now in its fourth month. Nearly 800 people have been killed and around 360,000 displaced from their homes. This is deeply troubling and represents a new dimension to terrorism in the South-East Asia.

We must prevent the Southern Philippines becoming a magnet for foreign terrorist fighters likewise.

The crisis in Myanmar has the potential to be used by terrorist groups for recruiting to their cause.

Australia is supporting the Armed Forces of the Philippines, with surveillance aircraft and logistical support; we're providing humanitarian assistance to victims and funding to support peace-building in the southern Philippines.

There have been brutal attacks across the Middle East and Africa.

We must continue to tackle ISIS and its pernicious influence through: ongoing military action in Iraq and Syria; cutting off its sources of finance; disrupting the flow of foreign terrorist fighters across borders; and exposing ISIS's false narratives.

We must continue to also focus on Al-Qaeda, which also plots attacks against us all.

A critical to focus is to tackle the drivers of violent extremism.

We cannot allow the internet to become an ungoverned space where terrorists freely spread their propaganda, or plan criminal activities.The Global Counter-Terrorism Forum has a unique role to play as multilateral and action-orientated group promoting best practice civilian-led approaches to combating international terrorism and the violent extremist ideologies that drive it.

Since the Forum commenced in 2011, much good work has been done and which can be implemented.

Australia has been entrusted, in partnership with Indonesia, as co-chair of the Working Group on Countering Violent Extremism for the next two years.

We are determined to build on the excellent work done by the outgoing co-chairs, the UK and UAE, for which we are most grateful.

We will build on the momentum of the key initiatives of the Working Group, including through the Hedayah Centre and the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund. We look forward to opportunities to engage with the new UN Office of Counter-Terrorism to continue the Forum's strong support for the UN CT and CVE framework.

Australia also notes the achievements of the Detention and Reintegration Working Group (DRWG) which we co-chaired with Indonesia.

Extremists are relentless in their determination to overthrow governance and to impose a dystopian social structure that is medieval in its brutality.

We must be equally relentless in our response and I thank the members of the forum for their ongoing work and support.

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