On 28 November 2022, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) announced that Australia’s national terrorism threat level has been downgraded from PROBABLE to POSSIBLE. This is the first time the threat level has changed since it was raised in 2014.
But what does it mean for AUSTRAC and for our reporting entities?
In announcing the downgrade, Mike Burgess, the Director-General of Security noted:
“…while Australia remains a potential terrorist target, there are fewer extremists with the intention to conduct an attack onshore than there were when we raised the threat level in 2014.
This does not mean the threat is extinguished. Far from it.
‘Possible’ does not mean ‘negligible’.”
A lower attack threat warning does not mean the risk posed by terrorism financing to Australia is any lower. Terrorist groups and their financiers will continue to raise, move and use funds for purposes other than attacks, for instance, to support organisational activity and members, both in Australia and abroad. Detection of terrorist financing activity can also be an important early indicator of new threats or future attack planning. Therefore, reporting entities will need to continue conducting a high level of diligence and remain vigilant towards terrorism financing risks.
What does this mean for me?
The threat of terrorism and its financing is still present and will continue to evolve. This means you need to effectively maintain your businesses processes for identifying, managing, and reporting suspected terrorism financing activity. This includes understating your risks, refining your business’s internal controls and understanding when you may need to report suspicious matters to AUSTRAC.