Only a matter of time before terrorism reaches New Zealand, expert warns

Islamic State is basically "Al Qaeda 3.0", far more advanced and technology-savvy than its predecesors, a leading ...
DADO RUVIC/REUTERS

Islamic State is basically "Al Qaeda 3.0", far more advanced and technology-savvy than its predecesors, a leading academic says.

Radical Islam will come to New Zealand "soon enough" and New Zealand should prepare for its arrival, a terrorism expert has warned.

Professor Greg Barton of Deakin University, one of Australia's leading scholars on terrorism and violent extremism, said it was inevitable that Islamic State recruitment would reach New Zealand.

The organisation was spreading rapidly throughout the world through social networks and was causing serious problems in Australia.

"It hasn't had a big impact in New Zealand thus far but it has had a big impact in Australia for reasons we're not quite yet sure of."

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While radicalised Muslims represented only a fraction of Australian Muslims, they were connected through cells and had proven very effective.

Barton was in Auckland speaking at the Massey University Centre for Defence and Security Studies National Conference, which also featured speakers on cyber security and rising tensions in the South China Sea.

He said Islamic State had its roots in Al-Qaeda but had evolved and was now "Al-Qaeda 3.0", boasting greater numbers and sophisticated technology.

Many bright young minds were being recruited by the organisation to use social networks to spread their message across the world, increasingly through encrypted means.

Even if the organisation was defeated in the heartland of Iraq and Syria, it was unlikely to disappear for "decades to come".

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This would eventually mean that New Zealand would see the effects of radicalisation.

With the world so globalised, it was equally possible that there could be mass Kiwi casualties in other countries, such as Australia or Asia, he said.

"It's not a bullwark that keeps you perfectly safe, Australia has been affected by these radical elements that haven't come to New Zealand...but it's going to come to New Zealand soon enough."

Also speaking at the conference was cyber security expert Dr Tang Lan, who said with the internet becoming such a tool for not only terrorist groups but criminals in general New Zealand needed to make sure it took the issue seriously.

Hackers and cyber criminals had the ability to do great damage to a country and penetrate all aspects including government and the economy.

It was important New Zealand increased its cooperation with other countries to combat the threat, she said.

Earlier this year two Auckland men became the first to be found guilty in New Zealand of charges linked to home-grown radialisation.

Imran Patel, 26, and Noroshan Nawarajan, 27, pleaded guilty to charges relating to violent radical videos.

Police found Nawarajan in possession of a laptop containing videos entitled Flames of War and Massacre of the Shias.

Patel was found in possession of video clips including some that featured people being beheaded, shot, blown up, set on fire and having limbs amputated.

 - Stuff

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