Prime Minister Tony Abbott continues to charge down the National Security rabbit-hole, delivering a speech to the Australian Federal Police today on why we need metadata so bad, while adding that the Australian government needs to employ social media expert gurus to stop Aussie kids being “radicalised” online.
The process of radicalising according to the Prime Minister involves getting impressionable youths in with groups like Islamic State in order to drive them to enact so-called “lone actor” attacks on Australia and her citizens in the name of their new found cause.
He says that the process of radicalisation happens early, often when they’re alone in their bedrooms browsing the web:
These lone actor attacks are not new, but they pose a unique set of problems.
All too often, alienated and unhappy people brood quietly.
Feeling persecuted and looking for meaning, they self-radicalise online. Then they plan attacks which require little preparation, training or capability. The short lead time from the moment they decide they are going to strike, and then actually undertake the attack, makes it hard to disrupt their activities.
To try and stop these attacks from happening, the Prime Minister wants the government to look into stopping kids self-radicalising. The newly-issued review into Australia’s Counter-Terrorism Machinery — released today — recommends hiring new personnel to deal with the problem:
Terror groups use highly targeted messages to appeal to vulnerable audiences. They rely on a range of humanitarian, ideological and identity-based narratives to gain support. They also use social media to great effect, while empowering supporters to independently generate and distribute propaganda. Young people don’t necessarily receive information through traditional news channels, and are unlikely to trust government-led messaging. Yet Australia’s online counter radicalisation efforts are still largely passive, based on government-badged information.
Community leaders and young Muslim Australians are often seen by at-risk communities as more legitimate, although some, particularly older individuals, lack the digital skills and media confidence necessary to engage online or in public debate. Governments should build the capacity of these credible voices in order to increase their reach and effectiveness. This may include funding for multimedia training and the development of online forums and videos.
For example, the UK currently employs film crews who work directly with community organisations to produce material which challenges extremist narratives. These crews work directly with community groups to ensure the end product maintains its identity (and therefore credibility). The material is distributed directly by these organisations, with only a small portion directly badged with government involvement.
Developing and delivering counter-narratives will be essential to reduce the pool of potential terrorists…
The report added that Australia doesn’t currently have the staff or skills to deal with these “radical narratives”.
Government does not currently have the social media, religious and other expertise necessary to effectively reach target audiences. Some of this capability can be outsourced, depending on the nature of the work and its sensitivity.
The Review recommends that the Commonwealth actively challenge extremist propaganda.
The Prime Minister’s speech is one of the more gobsmacking he’s delivered on National Security, and is well worth a read. [Scribd]