Australia is proposing tougher counter-terrorism
laws after it deported a suspected French Al-Qaida member last month. The new
measures will allow authorities to hold suspects longer without charges and will
speed up the classification of terrorist groups.
Australia says it wants more power to defend itself against suspected terrorists.
The country's top law officer, attorney-general Philip Ruddock, says the new
laws are needed to allow his government to "act quickly, effectively and decisively," in
The laws under consideration will let authorities hold individual suspects
longer without charges and more easily classify groups as terrorists.
Australia deported a Frenchman last month who intelligence sources say was
involved with the terrorist group al-Qaida. Both French and Australian security
agencies say the Frenchman, Willie Virgile Brigitte, was planning an attack
in Australia. The government says Mr. Brigitte's presence of showed up the
weaknesses of present counter-terrorism laws.
The new powers sought by the government will allow it to arrest individual
suspects more easily and detain them for longer than seven days. The laws will
also make it easier for the government to freeze the assets of groups named
as terrorist organizations and file charges against its members.
Two suspected terrorist groups are in Australia's sights - the Pakistan-based
Laskar-e-Taiba and the Palestinian militant faction Hamas. Officials suspect
that Mr. Brigitte trained with Laskar-e-Taiba.
Since the terrorist bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali last year,
Australia has been on its highest state of alert. Eighty-eight Australians
were among the 202 victims, and Canberra acknowledges that the country's profile
as a potential terrorist target has risen