The Herald Sun reports that “ASIO is monitoring more than 100 Australians whom it lists as suspects or ‘persons of interest’ in the war on terror.
“The security agency is also working to identify another mystery Australian who trained with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. He is described only as blond and caucasian. It is unknown whether he returned to Australia, remained in the Middle East, or was killed in the Afghanistan war.
“The chief executive of security consultants Intelligent Risks, Neil Fergus, said there were several Australians identified as having trained with al-Qaeda, and about 100 Jemaah Islamiyah supporters in Australia who were known to authorities.”
Although many doubt that Al-Qaeda has the ability to carry out a strike in Australia at this point, The chief executive of security consultants Intelligent Risks, Neil Fergus, says: “As shown in the past, al-Qaeda will not simply cease and desist; they have quite remarkable determination.’
“Of al-Qaeda sympathisers and camp trainees in Australia, Mr Fergus said: ‘There are several people who have links, and in the main you would have to say they have been engaged in proselytising for the group and raising funds. Western intelligence services have gone to extreme lengths to identify all those who have trained in the camps, through sensitive sources or interrogation. The indications are there are probably at least a few other Australians who have trained in an al-Qaeda camp.’
“Mr Fergus said captured US Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh may have identified two Australians at an Afghanistan camp, not just Abu Jihad, whom he named as a Melbourne painter in a December 2001 FBI interview. He said Australian officials had originally believed one of those men to be Jack ‘Jihad’ Thomas, but that possibility now appeared less likely because the suspect was described as blond.
“‘He (the suspect) may not have returned to Australia; trying to ID him is the first step, and trying to find his whereabouts,’ he said.” (Thanks to Jean-Luc.)