The Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir - banned in Europe, China and Saudi Arabia but legal in Australia - has been identified as a threat to the nation
Research has found it takes advantage of Australian tolerance to launch propaganda attacks on the country and that its adherents are primed to take the next step up to jihad, if called upon to do so.
The propaganda of the religious group, which is legal in Australia, encourages a level of religious hatred that could convince its followers to carry out terrorist acts, says the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. A paper by the think tank's Anthony Bergin and Jacob Townsend says while Hizb ut-Tahrir does not advocate the use of terror - indeed forbids its members from engaging in terrorist acts - it uses the same radical terminology as al-Qa'ida.
The paper warns the group's Australian operations need to be closely monitored, even though it defers the use of terror until a "caliphate", or order to militant jihad, by a religious leader.
"Hizb ut-Tahrir may well act as a warm-up track for violent radicals," it says.
"Hizb ut-Tahrir advocates a revolutionary change to our social and political system. It encourages indirectly and sometimes more directly political violence by its inciting propaganda.
"It uses Australian tolerance to promote radical propaganda even against Australia itself."
The paper acknowledges that Hizb ut-Tahrir has not been designated a terrorist organisation in Australia, saying its members' proselytising has been on the acceptable side of anti-terrorism laws. It also warns that, while the group disassociates itself from individual terrorist acts, it employs a clever communications strategy. "Hizb ut-Tahrir tailors its messages to different audiences," the paper says.
The group held a conference in Sydney in January calling for all Muslims in Australia to work towards forming a pan-global Islamic state. Its radical agenda has prompted NSW Premier Morris Iemma to call for Hizb ut-Tahrir to be proscribed.
The group, which claims about 200 Australian members, has been criticised by John Howard and investigated by ASIO, but there has not been enough evidence to designate it a terrorist organisation. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has announced a review of the organisation.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is already banned in several countries, including Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, China, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.
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