The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) provides strategic advice to the Australian Government and key partners, which influences policy development and aids in responding to terrorism threats targeting Australia.
In its 2017-18 annual report, the ASIO outlines some recent key achievements in the areas of counter-terrorism and national security.
Operation Silves refers to an operation in July 2017 which disrupted a plot to use an improvised explosive device against an Etihad flight departing Sydney, and a potential plot to use toxic gas in a terrorist attack.
ASIO provided advice and assessments for Operations Silves, directly informing the Australian Government’s protective security responses, including implementing heightened security measures across the Australian aviation sector.
More broadly, ASIO has significantly contributed to border security policy development, including providing assessments and advice on people-smuggling, aviation security and emerging potential threats to Australia’s national security.
In the report, it is stated that the ability to draw on an extensive range of international liaison partners “often provides unique perspectives on border security issues”.
Visa, citizenship and security
Throughout the period, ASIO continued to provide advice to national security partner agencies to combat serious threats to Australia’s security and border integrity.
This involved producing security assessments to assist key agencies in managing security risks relating to:
- Visas and citizenship applications
- Access to security controlled places, such as sensitive air or maritime port areas
- Special events accreditation – for example in support of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Australia Special Summit, and the 2018 Commonwealth Games
- Access to security-sensitive chemicals, biological agents and nuclear sites
- Applications for aviation and maritime security identity cards
Home Affairs support
Throughout 2017-18 ASIO provided crucial support to the Department of Home Affairs, including:
- Providing intelligence to assist in efforts to disrupt people-smuggling
- Assisting in the identification of foreign fighters returning from Syria and Iraq
- Providing advice and support with process improvements and system changes to strengthen visa-related decision making, including training of visa processing officers
- Identifying and assessing border security-related threats
Case study: border security
In 2016–17, ASIO investigated a foreign national, who at that time held an Australian visa. It was identified that the individual displayed support for a violent, extremist ideology and potentially planned to travel on to Syria to engage in politically motivated violence.
ASIO assessed that the individual presented a potential risk to Australia’s security, and issued an adverse security assessment in early 2017 resulting in the cancellation of the visa.
In 2018 this individual sought further travel to Australia, which was refused on the basis of a further ASIO security assessment.