24 May 2017





882 6PR



SUBJECT: Manchester attack.


GARETH PARKER, INTERVIEWER: My guest on the programme is Anne Aly, she’s Labor’s Member for Cowan in the Federal Parliament, but as we all know, before she entered Parliament she was at Edith Cowan University and she’s an expert in counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation measures. Anne Aly, good morning.

ANNE ALY, MEMBER FOR COWAN: Good morning Gareth and good morning to all your listeners.

INTERVIEWER: And I should point out that Anne joins us from our Canberra studio. Anne, this Manchester attack, I think anyone who sort of looked at the television footage, who’s considered the information graphics printed in this morning’s newspapers would immediately think: this could happen here at the Perth Arena, at Subiaco Oval, at any of our other entertainment facilities.

ALY: Oh absolutely you know, we should never be complacent about where this could happen. And you know I think the Prime Minister this morning was talking about a review of what he calls ‘soft targets’, what we refer to as ‘soft targets’, and certainly if I was to look at the example of Perth Arena, I mean I’ve been there at the end of a Bruce Springsteen concert. I’m sure many of your listeners have been to concerts or events at Perth Arena, and will have noticed that upon leaving the Arena everyone is filtered out through a single exit point. It’s absolute chaos outside of the Arena on the paved area on Wellington Street. People are moving in all directions, there’s no control, there’s no control of people movement, there’s no security, and this is exactly what happened at this devastating and heinous attack in Manchester on young people leaving a concert. The suicide bomber detonated his vest outside of the venue at the end of the concert, knowing full-well that the scene there would be large numbers of people, particularly young people which makes it even more heinous, and no control of people movement. And these are exactly the kinds of things we need to be thinking about in terms of protecting innocent lives.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, Anne it seems as though, to me, and this is an observation as a patron and a punter, is that when you turn up to modern events you are subject to a level of security checks, there are bags checked and the like at the start. Occasionally there are, depending on the venue, security wands and so on. You go in to the venue, you enjoy the concert or the sporting performance, but at the end, as you describe, it’s a free-for-all. So is that where the soft target has basically been picked in this case it appears as people are exiting, once that layer of security is dispensed with because people are focused on the start of an event, not the end of an event?

ALY: Well that’s part of it, you know Gareth I’ve worked with many governments around the world and consistently those governments are always saying ‘we’re falling behind the 8-ball in terms of trying to stop terrorist attacks’, and in fact that’s very true because one of the reasons is that we need to be understanding the terrorists’ mindset and why they might choose a particular target. And there are three reasons why terrorists choose a particular target. And the first one is that they’re opportunists, so they look for places where there is no security or very little security, where they have easy access in to and out of a venue. The second one, as heinous as this might sound, is that they look for places where they can inflict the most damage. So where people congregate, where there are large numbers of people, where a bomb is likely to cause the most deaths. And the third reason is a symbolic value. So, a venue where people are having fun, taking advantage of the freedoms that we enjoy here in western democracies, you know they want to send a message so to speak.

INTERVIEWER: Anne, can it happen here?

ALY: Absolutely it can happen here. We should never, ever think that it wouldn’t happen here. One of the reasons terrorism works is because of its shock value. You know, what we don’t expect. Who would have ever thought that planes would be used to attack people? Who would have ever thought that cars would be used to kill people as part of the terrorist repertoire? The reason terrorism works is because of its shock value. So we should always, always be vigilant.

INTERVIEWER: So what do we need to do as a matter of priority – that we’re not already doing –  to manage this?

ALY: Well the first thing is to really, really look at our soft targets. And when we look at a soft target like for example, and I’ll use this as an example, the Perth Arena, the first thing that we can be doing is looking at how we manage people flow in to and out of the venue. Particularly after an event as you stated earlier Gareth. You know, what are we doing to manage people flow? We should be having points where people can exit in single file and people are moved on quickly so there is no reason for them to congregate in large groups outside a particular venue, because that just means that somebody could come along and inflict maximum damage. That’s exactly what terrorists look for.

INTERVIEWER: What about the question of the perpetrators? Of radicalisation? In this case, the perpetrator, the suicide bomber, born in Manchester, first generation born in the UK, parents are immigrants, are refugees. This is unfortunately a common story.

ALY: Absolutely. And you forget to add also there Gareth, he was known.


ALY: He was known to intelligence agencies. He had travelled to Libya, all of those things. And more and more we hear that the people who perpetrate terrorist attacks were known. Were known to law enforcement agencies or intelligence agencies. If not for terrorist-related activities, for other forms of criminal activity and other forms of criminal behaviour. Which is why we need to have more capacity and to have a better way of intervening early. To be able to stop these people from carrying out terrorist attacks. If they are already known to us, if they are already under the radar, this is not like it used to be. It used to be that most of the time these people were un-extraordinary, didn’t have a history of violence, didn’t have a history of--you couldn’t really detect them, and it was much harder to intervene early. These days, the way that terrorism has changed is that there are many more indicators that we’re aware of, there are much better intelligence coordination that allows us to be able to pinpoint people earlier. And so we need to be able to intervene earlier as well.

INTERVIEWER: Thanks for your time this morning Anne.

ALY: Thank you so much Gareth.

INTERVIEWER: Anne Aly, Labor Member for Cowan and a counter-terrorism expert.