, SYDNEY, Jul 21 – Attorney-General Robert McClelland said Thursday Australia’s terror threat level would not change despite an image of Sydney’s iconic Opera House appearing in an online magazine linked to Al-Qaeda.
The landmark building is featured in the latest edition of “Inspire”, an English-language site that deals with bomb-making and terrorism.
It is reportedly put together by associates of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a militant Islamist organisation primarily active in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
“I have been advised this publication does not represent any change to the extent of the terrorist threat within Australia,” McClelland said in a statement.
“And I am advised it has not been accompanied by any specific threat in Australia or to Australian citizens.”
As such, the country’s National Terrorism Alert Level would remain at medium, he said, which means a terrorist attack could occur. It has been at the medium level since 2001.
“This publication does serve as a reminder of the need for constant vigilance in countering terrorist threats,” he added.
“The government has a strong counter-terrorism framework and capabilities in place that has previously detected and disrupted actual terrorist planning in Australia.”
The picture of the Opera House, conceived and largely built by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, opening in 1973, was on the front of the online magazine’s regular bomb-making section, “Open Source Jihad”.
The site first appeared in May last year and reports said that it had previously only featured images of American cities.
McClelland said the government was writing to the Australian Communications and Media Authority to take down links to the magazine but acknowledged that removing all access would be difficult.
“In the modern age of global electronic communications, the reality is this material will emerge on overseas sites,” he said.
New South Wales assistant police commissioner Peter Dein, the state’s counter-terrorism commander, said authorities became aware of the Opera House picture on Tuesday.
“When you actually read it you see that most of it touches on the death of Osama bin Laden, but then you get to the back of the magazine and you find that there’s a photograph of the Opera House,” he said.
“I must stress that there’s no text, no commentary that exists (in the magazine) that relates to the Opera House at all.”
He added that it was hard to interpret what message it might be sending.
“It could simply be the fact that it’s an icon that is well known around the Western world and may not really have any relevance that it is in Sydney,” he said.
“There’s no information whatsoever to tell us that there is an attack planned.”
He told reporters it was well publicised that there were about 100 people in Australia affiliated with terrorists.
Dein said he believed US-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was behind the literature, describing him as one of the most dangerous men in the world.
“He is wanted by a number of countries for terrorism offences, he has influenced and played a significant role in a number of recent terrorist attacks,” he said.