ASIO: Terrorist Attack "Probable", Foreign Intel Influence "Unprecedented"
The director of the external intelligence service informed, in a new report, that the threat from the terrorist and extremists was still present. A new report also gave a unique view into cost and the management results of the secretive agency.
In the introduction to 160-pages, the ASIO Annual Report Director-General Mike Burgess warned that the terrorism threat level remains probable. "I see no prospect it will be lowered in the foreseeable future," he emphasised.
His predecessor Mr. Duncan Lewis warned in the previous report that "a low-capability attack targeting people fulfils a number of key terrorist objectives, including casualties, public fear and anxiety, and media attention."
The main source of the danger is, Mr. Burgess stressed, Sunni Islamic terrorism fueled by groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Syria, where there are 80 Australians who traveled to fight on the side of the Islamic State. The ASIO Director-General also informed that multiple terrorism offenders are scheduled for release from Australian prisons over the next five years.
"The threat of terrorist attack in Australia probable"
The terror groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda have intensified the recruitment in Australia during the Wuhan virus epidemic, according to the authors of the report. "This propaganda is drawing a younger audience which accesses this material online, and its potential reach increased in 2020 as COVID-19 social isolation increasingly pushed Australians online."
The threat of right-wing terror groups should not be underestimated, the authors of the report suggested. Right-wing extremists primarily pose a threat to Jewish, Muslim, or other minorities, as well as ideological opponents of the extremists.
The other security problem for Australians is the increased activity of foreign governments. Mr. Burgess, however, explained that the spying effort is often confused with open influence activities. And the ASIO targets only the concealed activities of foreign governments that appear to look like otherwise on the surface.
Unprecedented scale and sophistication foreign intelligence attacks
Espionage in Australia had eclipsed Cold War levels, Mr. Burgess told parliament on, warning that citizens were being monitored and harassed by foreign powers.
Foreign intelligence agencies are targeting government, academia, and industry for access to sensitive and valuable information. The ASIO analysts stated that the attempts of the theft occur daily and were of unprecedented scale and sophistication.
Several politicians across the ideological spectrum have become embroiled in investigations into suspected overseas influence operations - most notably from China.
Australia's normally tight-lipped spy chiefs have become increasingly outspoken about the threat.
"There are more foreign spies and their proxies operating against Australian interests than there were at the height of the Cold War," said Australian Security Intelligence Organisation chief Mr. Mike Burgess.
In the report, Mr. Burgess informed about that this year the ASIO officers thwarted an attack against Australian intelligence services. The ASIO Director-General wrote that the Australia-based foreign national worked with foreign services agents trying to recruit individuals with access to the classified information. The group was interested in the intelligence community’s operations related to their home country. But Director-General named the country neither the nationality of the agents.
ASIO have increased consumption of energy, water and waste-production levels in 2019-20
The ASIO Annual Report included financial reports informed that ASIO spent $587m saving taxpayer about $13m in 2019-20.
The taxpayers paid ASIO Director-General Mr. Burgess $585,937, and his Deputy-Director Ms. Heather Cook $473,999. It was significantly less to $803,964 the total remuneration of his predecessor Mr. Duncan Lewis, as indicated by 2018-19 ASIO Report. A year earlier, the taxpayers also paid $23,567 more to Deputy-Director.
The salary of the senior executives ranged from $327,377 to $227,697, and the highest salary for senior employees was $156,789.
The lowest minimum salary in ASIO was $50,342.
According to the report, the agency intensified waste management cutting, for instance, on the usage of paper by 90 tonnes. It increased the utilisation of the recyclable material by 100 tonnes, compared to the previous year the amount of waste per employee has increased by 27.3 kg. The increase in water usage has also increased by 2065 cubic meters, but the agency captured about 2,000 cubic meters of rainwater less than in the previous year.
The ASIO electricity consumption was lower by 109,439 kWh, but the gas energy consumption increased by 2,246,633 MJ compared to 2018-19. This result, however, allowed the agency to hold its 3.5 stars in the energy efficiency rating.
The authors of the report informed that ASIO officers to improve savings were encouraged to take part in national environmental events like Earth Hour.