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Guidelines to protect Australians from terrorist attacks in stadiums, shopping malls and public transport hubs

NEW guidelines to protect Australians from terrorist bomb attacks in sporting stadiums, shopping malls and public transport hubs have been released.

The Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee has released the guidelines to help governments and businesses prepare for a possible improvised explosive device in places of mass gathering.

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter Terrorism, Michael Keenan, said the guidelines were to guard against the threat of IEDs and were not in response to any specific threat.

“We want to ensure places of mass gatherings are equipped to contribute to the collective national effort to manage any IED threat,’’ Mr Keenan told the Herald Sun.

“Sadly as we have seen overseas in recent months, crowded places, such as public transport hubs, shopping malls and entertainment precincts, can be vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

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“While Australia’s threat level remains at probable – which means credible intelligence, assessed by our security agencies indicates that individuals or groups have developed both the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia – the incidents overseas highlight the need to be prepared.’’

Crowded places such as public transport hubs are vulnerable to attacks. Pictures: Tony Gough

According to the guidelines, violent extremists and “disgruntled individuals’’ have specifically identified mass gathering places as attractive targets both in Australia and overseas.

They warn that terrorist attacks against targets in Western countries with similar security environments to Australia typically involve the use of small portable devices, devices hidden in vehicles, or mixed-mode attacks where terrorists use explosive devices and other weapons, usually firearms.

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“A terrorist attack in Australia using IEDs is likely to be low cost, involve minimal training, and make use of precursors that are widely available (eg from hardware stores, chemists and agricultural supply stores) and can be bought without raising suspicion,’’ the guidelines warn.

“An IED target is often chosen for its high symbolic or economic value, its potential to generate casualties and public anxiety, or its ability to gain media attention.”

The guidelines give details of how buildings can be made more resilient to IED attack, including by creating “stand-off’’ space to stop vehicles getting too close to buildings.

“Strategically placed objects such as spheres, planter boxes, seats or bollards on the pavement at entrances to (places of mass gathering) can provide extra protection from unauthorised vehicle intrusion as well as increasing stand-off distance,’’ the guidelines say.

bollards

They further give advice on how to identify suspicious behaviour but warn it is not an exact science and nervous behaviour might be “typical for other settings, such as attending a job interview”.

“Consider these behavioural signals: continuous scanning of an area, unusual perspiration, heavy breathing, fidgeting, rubbing hands, pacing, clock watching, exaggerated yawning, avoiding security/uniformed officers,’’ it suggests.

The guidelines follow similar documents on terrorism in public places and active shooter guidelines.

Source: Herald Sun