Recent reports from Australia have suggested the existence of as many as 800 terrorist suspects currently residing in the country. Today, however, it was revealed that the Australian government had received intelligence as early as 2002 which indicated that hundreds of Islamic extremists had already infiltrated Australia, some of whom were willing to carry out suicide attacks against civilian targets. The information, if accurate, means that the number of Australian jihadists has increased over 100% in just three years, according to The Australian newspaper:
ASIO [Australian Security and Intelligence Organization] was last night investigating a claim that as early as 2002 there were 300 extremists in Australia willing to mount a terror attack.
The claim is understood to have been made by an Australian terror suspect who was jailed in the Middle East because of his links with the al-Qa’ida terror network.
The suspect is alleged to have boasted of the strength of al-Qa’ida’s network in Australia during a telephone call made to an associate in Hamburg.
That conversation was recorded by German police.
The suspect is now back in Australia and is understood to be on an ASIO watchlist.
The development comes after The Australian revealed earlier this week that, in the wake of the July 7 London bombings, ASIO believes there are now as many as 800 people in Australia who could be inspired to carry out such an attack.