Sectarian violence: the threat to Australia

ISIS fighters

Research team

Research summary

The NSC’s seventh Occasional Paper discussed the threat to Australia from Islamic extremism and returned foreign fighters.

Religiously motivated violence has stood as one of Australia’s primary national security concerns for more than a decade. Religious intolerance has led to the deaths of thousands of Westerners and countless non-Westerners since September 2001.

Despite Australian Government efforts to dissuade would-be fighters, their numbers have escalated. Religiously motivated violence is a multi-faceted security threat. There are few world regions where religious identity is not an influencing factor.

The proliferation of social media outlets, ease of travel and growth of diasporic communities has allowed people to connect to and identify with groups in ways that were unimaginable a generation earlier.

In 2014, Dr Rodger Shanahan, former Australian Army officer and leading expert on political Islam, was commissioned by the NSC to conduct research which would provide insight into the current issues surrounding sectarian violence and concerns relating to Australian Jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq.

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