What is Terrorism? A Complete Guide to Terrorism Laws in Australia

Key Takeaways

Here is a complete guide on Terrorism laws in Australia, including anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing act, terrorism in Australia facts, common terrorist offences, penalties and defences under the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 terrorism laws of Australia.

Engaging in a Terrorist Act or Training in Preparation for a Terrorist Act Possessing Things Connected with Terrorist Acts
Collecting or Making Documents Likely to Facilitate Terrorist Acts.  Other Acts Done in Preparation for, or Planning, Terrorist Acts
Directing Activities of a Terrorist Organisation Membership of a Terrorist Organisation
Recruiting for a Terrorist Organisation Training involving a Terrorist Organisation
Funding a Terrorist Organisation Providing Support to Terrorist
Associating with a Terrorist Financing Terrorism
Financing a Terrorist Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (Cth)
Defences to Terrorist Offences Terrorist Organisations
Meaning of Reckless?

Engaging in a Terrorist Act | Training in Preparation for a Terrorist Act

A person who engages in a terrorist act or acts of terrorism will face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, prescribed by section 101.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Commonwealth) (Criminal Code).

A person who provides or receives training, where that training is connected with preparation for (or the engagement of a person in, or assistance in) a terrorist act will face a maximum penalty of up to 25-years imprisonment if that person knows of that connection.

If that person is reckless as to the existence of that connection, the maximum penalty prescribed is 15 years imprisonment.

A person will still be guilty even if a terrorist act does not occur, or if the training is not connected with the preparation for (or engagement of a person in or assistance in) a specific terrorist act, or the training is connected with preparation (etc) for more than one terrorist act.

These offences applies whether or not that person commits this offence within or outside Australia.

What Does Terrorism Mean?

Definition of a “terrorist act” is outlined in section 100.1 of the definition of the Criminal Code, and means an action or threat of action where:

  1. The action causes serious physical harm to a person, causes serious damage to property, causes a person’s death, endangers a person’s life, other than the life of the person taking the action, creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or seriously interferes with, seriously disrupts, or destroys, an electronic system including, an information system, telecommunication system, financial system, a system used for delivery of essential government services, a system used for, or by, an essential public utility, or a system used for, or by, a transport system, and
  2. The action is not an advocacy, protest, dissent or industrial action, and where the action is not intended to cause serious physical harm to a person, cause a person’s death, endanger the life of a person, other than the person taking the action, or create a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, and
  3. The action is done or the threat is made with the intention of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause, and the action is done or threat made with the intention of coercing or influencing by intimidation, the government of the Commonwealth or a State, Territory or foreign country, or of part of a State, Territory or foreign country, or intimidating the public or a section of the public.

Possessing Things Connected with Terrorist Acts

A person who possesses a thing where that thing is connected with the preparation for (or the engagement of a person in, or assistance in) a terrorist act will face a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment if that person knows of that connection, prescribed by section 101.4 Criminal Code.

If that person is reckless as to the existence of that connection, the maximum penalty prescribed is 10 years imprisonment.

These offences occur even if a terrorist act does not occur, or the thing is not connected with preparation for (or the engagement of a person in, or assistance in) a specific terrorist act, or if the thing is connected with the preparation for (or the engagement of a person in, or assistance in) more than one terrorist act.

These offences applies whether or not that person commits this offence within or outside Australia.

Defence

It is a defence to this charge if the possession of the thing was not intended to facilitate preparation for a terrorist act, or if it was not intended to facilitate the engagement of a person in, or assistance in a terrorist act, according to section 101.4(5) Criminal Code.

Collecting or Making Documents Likely to Facilitate Terrorist Acts

A person who collects or makes a document where the document is connected with the preparation for (or the engagement of a person in, or assistance in) a terrorist act will face a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment if that person knows of that connection, according to section 101.5 Criminal Code.

If that person is reckless as to the existence of that connection, the maximum penalty is 10-years imprisonment.

These penalties apply even if a terrorist act doesn’t take place, or the document is not connected with the preparation for (or the engagement of a person in, or assistance in) a specific terrorist act, or if it is connected so in more than one terrorist act.

These offences applies whether or not that person commits this offence within or outside Australia.

Other Acts Done in Preparation for, or Planning, Terrorist Acts

A person who does any act in preparation for a terrorist act will face up to life imprisonment, according to section 101.6 Criminal Code. In addition, the same maximum penalty applies to committing any act in planning a terrorist act.

This offence and penalty applies even if a terrorist act doesn’t take place, or the person’s act isn’t done in preparation or planning of a specific terrorist act, or it’s done in preparation or planning in more than one terrorist act.

Directing Activities of a Terrorist Organisation

A person who intentionally directs the activities of a terrorist organisation, knowing it’s a terrorist organisation will face up to 25 years imprisonment, prescribed by section 102.2 Criminal Code.

If that person is reckless as to whether the organisation is a terrorist organisation, the maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment.

Membership of a Terrorist Organisation

A person who intentionally is a member of a terrorist organisation, knowing that the organisation is a terrorist organisation will face up to 10 years imprisonment, according to section 102.3 Criminal Code.

Defence

A defence to this offence includes, if the person can prove that he/she took all reasonable steps to stop being a member of the organisation as soon as practicable after becoming aware that the organisation is a terrorist organisation.

Recruiting for a Terrorist Organisation

A person who intentionally recruits a person to join or participate in activities of a terrorist organisation, knowing it’s a terrorist organisation will face up to 25 years imprisonment, prescribed by section 102.4 Criminal Code.

If the person is reckless as to whether the organisation is a terrorist organisation, the maximum penalty he/she will face is 15 years imprisonment.

Training Involving a Terrorist Organisation

A person who intentionally provides training to or receives training from or participates in training with a terrorist organisation will face up to 25 years imprisonment if that person is reckless as to whether the organisation is a terrorist organisation, according to section 102.5 Criminal Code.

Funding a Terrorist Organisation

A person who intentionally makes funds available to a terrorist organisation, whether directly or indirectly, knowing the organisation is a terrorist organisation will face a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment, according to section 102.6 Criminal Code.

The same penalty applies for receiving funds from, collecting funds for or on behalf of a terrorist organisation, knowing that it is a terrorist organisation.

A person who does this being reckless as to whether the organisation is a terrorist organisation will face up to 15 years imprisonment.

Defence

Defences to this charge includes a person receiving funds for acting as legal representatives for or in providing legal advice to the person charged.

Providing Support to a Terrorist Organisation

A person who intentionally provides support or resources that helps a terrorist organisation engage in an activity that directly or indirectly engages in preparing, planning, assisting or fostering the doing of a terrorist act will face up to 25 years imprisonment if that person knows that the organisation is a terrorist organisation, according to section 102.7 Criminal Code.

A person who commits this offence while being reckless as to whether the organisation is a terrorist organisation will face a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment.

Associating with a Terrorist Organisation

A person who, on two or more occasions, intentionally associates with another person who’s a member of a terrorist organisation will face up to 3 years imprisonment if that person knows that it’s a terrorist organisation, and the association provides support to it, and the person intended for the support to assist the organisation to expand or continue to exist, and where that person also knows that the other person is a member of the terrorist organisation (or is a person who promotes or directs the activities of it), according to section 102.8 Criminal Code.

This also applies if the person intentionally associates with another person who is a person who promotes or directs the activities of the terrorist organisation.

A person who has previously been convicted of this offence and commits it again will also face up to 3 years imprisonment.

These offences apply whether or not that person commits this offence within or outside Australia.

Financing Terrorism

A person who provides funds to or collects funds in circumstances that person is reckless as to whether the funds will be used to facilitate or engage in a terrorist act will face up to life imprisonment, according to section 103.1 Criminal Code.

This offence still applies if a terrorist act does not occur, or if the funds won’t be used to facilitate or engage in a specific terrorist act, or the funds will be used to facilitate or engage in more than one terrorist act.

These offences applies whether or not that person commits this offence within or outside Australia.

Financing a Terrorist

A person who intentionally makes funds available to another person (directly or indirectly) or collects funds for or on behalf of another person, will face up to life imprisonment if that person is reckless as to whether the other person will use the funds to facilitate or engage in a terrorist act, according to section 103.2 Criminal Code.

This applies even if a terrorist act does not occur, or the funds won’t be used to facilitate or engage in a specific terrorist act, or the funds will be used to facilitate or engage in more than one terrorist act.

These offences applies whether or not that person commits this offence within or outside Australia.

Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (Cth)

The Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-terrorism Financing Act (AML/CTF Act) gives power to Australia’s AML regulator to detect and prevent money laundering and terrorism financing by enhancing collaboration between government agencies to detect organised crime.

These laws basically provide for a customer identification procedure, correspondent banking relationships, tipping-off offences, access to information, and cross-border movements of money.

For example the laws, particularly sections 95 of the AML/CTF Act prohibits a financial institution from entering into a correspondent banking relationship with a financial institution that permits its accounts to be used by a shell bank.

Section 96 AML/CTF Act places a requirement of financial institutions to conduct due diligence assessments at stages of entry and during all correspondent banking relationships.

Section 123 AML/CTF Act allows to an extent for entities to now disclose suspicious matter reports to external auditors who’re reviewing the reporting entity’s AML/CTF program, and members of a designated business group or corporate group outside of Australia for purposes of disclosing the risks involved in dealing with a particular customer. The purpose is to allow global businesses to more effectively manage risks associated with their intentional footprint.

What is Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism?

Anti-money laundering (AML) involves activities performed by financial institutions for compliance with their legal obligations to monitor for and report suspicious activities. Counter terrorism in financing (CFT) are a set of laws with guidelines to prevent banks from being used by criminals for money laundering or terrorist financing activities.

What is the Anti Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Regulator?

The anti-money laundering an counter terrorism financing regulator is the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), which is the Australian Government agency responsible for ensuring compliance with these laws.

Defences to Terrorist Offences

If any one of the following defences apply, any of these charges will be dismissed either early in the proceedings, or at the conclusion of the court trial or hearing:

  • If you are a child under the age of 10.
  • If you are a child within the age of between 10 and under 14, you will be not guilty if you knew that the conduct was wrong.
  • Mental illness or impairment applies if at the time of the conduct, you were suffering from a mental impairment that had the effect that you didn’t know the nature and quality of the conduct, or you didn’t know that the conduct was wrong in the sense that you could not reason with a moderate degree of sense and composure about whether the conduct, as perceived by reasonable people, was wrong, or you were unable to control your conduct.
  • Involuntary intoxication of alcohol or drugs.
  • Duress or necessity i.e. emergency

Terrorist Organisations

Meaning of “terrorist organisation” is an organisation that’s directly or indirectly engaged in preparing, planning, assisting or fostering the doing of a terrorist act.

In addition, the following organisations have been specified by the Regulations as a terrorist organisation:

  • Islamic State
  • Al-Qa’ida
  • Al-Shabaab
  • Boko Haram
  • Kurdistan Workers’ Party
  • Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh

A court during prosecution for a terrorism offence may find an organisation to be a terrorist organisation.

How Can a Terrorist Organisation be Listed?

An organisation can end up on the list of terrorist organisations if the Minister for Home Affairs is satisfied on reasonable grounds that the organisation is directly or indirectly engaged in preparing, assisting, planning or fostering the doing of a terrorist act, or advocates the doing of a terrorist act.

“Advocate the doing of a terrorist act” means if the organisation directly or indirectly counsels, promotes, encourages or urges the doing of a terrorist act, or the organisation directly or indirectly provides instruction on doing this, or directly praises the doing of a terrorist act in circumstances where there is a substantial risk that such praise might have the effect of leading a person (regardless of his/her age or any mental impairment that the person might suffer) to engage in a terrorist act.

Meaning of Reckless?

Recklessness under the commonwealth criminal code means that you are aware of a substantial risk that the circumstance exists or will exist, and having regard to the circumstances known to you, it’s not justifiable to take that risk.

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