What is a ‘Terrorist Act’?

Terrorism is a serious issue on a global scale.

The threat of terrorism remains extremely high despite the counter-terrorism legislation around the world and in Australia.

Legal measures are in place to protect society from terrorism threats with legislation in place to ensure safety.

What is a ‘Terrorist Act’?

According to the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department, a terrorist act is an act or threat to act that meets the following measures:

  1. It intends to coerce or influence the public or any government by intimidation to advance a political, religious, or ideological cause
  2. It causes one or more of the following:
    • death, serious harm, or danger to a person
    • serious damage to property
    • a serious risk to the health or safety of the public
    • serious interference with, disruption to, or destruction of critical infrastructure such as a telecommunications or electricity network.

A ‘terrorist act’ is also outlined in section 100.1 of the Criminal Code definition.

Who Can Be Found Guilty of a Terrorist Act?

There are many ways you may be found guilty of a terrorist act, including but not limited to the following:

  • If you plan, prepare or finance terrorism or a terrorist you are also committing a terrorist crime.
  • If you provide or receive training connected with terrorist acts or possess things connected with terrorist acts, you may also be found guilty.
  • Collecting or making documents likely to facilitate terrorist acts also contributes to being guilty under a terrorist charge.


Examples of a Terrorist Act 

On an international level, the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2002 prompted governments around the world to introduce new draconian legal measures to combat the threat of terrorism.

On September 11th, 2001, the terrorist organisation Al Qaeda, an Islamic extremist group, coordinated 4 terrorist attacks on the world trade centre complex and the Pentagon.

Nineteen terrorists from the organisation hijacked 4 commercial aeroplanes crashing into the twin towers and pentagon leaving devastation and the loss of many lives.

This attack caused widespread fear and anger in western nations, and despite this being an attack on the United States, this applied in Australia.

In Australia, the community have witnessed several devastating terrorism-related acts.

The most notorious was the Lindt Café siege on December 15, 2014.

In Sydney’s martin place, a man named Haron Monis held 18 individual’s hostage in the Lindt café with the threat of a shotgun and claimed to have a sports bag filled with explosives.

The siege lasted 17 hours before police intervention where in unfortunate circumstances two people of the public were killed.

The gunman was also shot and killed by police.

Terrorism Legislation in Australia

Australia’s laws against terrorism are outlined in Part 5.3 of the Criminal Code Act 1995

For terrorism charges, the penalties are very severe, due to their dangerous nature and previous devastating outcomes.

Under Section 101.1 A person who commits the offence of engaging in a terrorist act will face a maximum penalty of imprisonment for life.

Section 101.2 says that an individual will be held liable to 25 years imprisonment if they provide or receive training connected with terrorist acts including if the training relates to preparation for, the engagement of a person in, or assistance in a terrorist act and know of the connection between the training and terrorism.

If the individual is ‘reckless’ as to the existence of the connection to terrorism highlighted in section 101.2, the penalty is 15 years imprisonment.

If an individual possesses a thing connected with preparation for, the engagement of a person in, or assistance in a terrorist act and is aware of the connection will be subject to 15 years imprisonment under section 101.4

Once again, if the individual is reckless about the connection between the thing and terrorism the penalty is 10 years imprisonment.

According to section 101.5, a person who collects or makes a document that relates to preparation for, the engagement of a person in, or assistance in a terrorist act and is aware of the connection to terrorism will face a penalty of up to 15 years imprisonment, with 10-year imprisonment penalty if the individual is reckless as to the existence of the connection.

A person will face life imprisonment under section 101.6 if the person does any act in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act for example hijackings, attempting to create bombs, explosives or ammunition and mass shootings.

Under these sections you will still be found guilty even despite the following reasons:

  1. a terrorist act does not occur; or
  2. the training, thing or document is not connected with preparation for, the engagement of a person in, or assistance in a specific terrorist act; or
  3. the training, thing or document is connected with preparation for, the engagement of a person in, or assistance in more than one terrorist act.

By Alyssa Maschmedt and Jimmy Singh.

About Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia

Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia are Leading Criminal Defence Lawyers, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Courts.

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