Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Beijing Games security concerns -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

ELEANOR HALL: China is of course hosting the Olympics not very long after this disaster in August.
And the Australian Olympic Committee is warning Australian athletes to stay away from large
demonstrations while they are in Beijing.

But security analysts though disagree on the degree to which China's Olympic Games is at risk of a
terrorist attack.

And the host nation itself is being accused of exaggerating its Olympic security operation as an
excuse to crackdown on dissidents.

Karen Barlow has our report.

KAREN BARLOW: Terrorist groups and disturbed individuals have long-eyed large international
gatherings such as the Olympics as potential targets.

Security experts agree that the Beijing Games' mains security concern is the Chinese home-grown,
East Turkestan Islamic Movement or ETIM.

On AM this morning, Beijing Games security consultant, Neil Fergus, outlined ETIM's links to
al-Qaeda.

NEIL FERGUS: There are over a 100 members of ETIM that were trained by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan,
prior to the invasion of Afghanistan. So there is no question about the links. The links are very
strong.

KAREN BARLOW: But al-Qaeda has become marginalised according to Professor Clive Williams from the
centre for counter terrorism at Macquarie University, and is now more inspiration rather than an
instructor.

CLIVE WILLIAMS: It is basically evolved into an organisation which is mainly promoting ideals and
propagandising and it's not directly involved in orchestrating operations anymore, it certainly
encourages local groups to do that. But I think with the model that the Americans tend to favour of
al-Qaeda where it's the evil empire orchestrating activities throughout the world is very much
exaggerated. I think that most activities nowadays are generated at a local level.

KAREN BARLOW: Neil Fergus, who advised the Sydney, Salt Lake City and Athens Games, and is working
on Beijing and London, says ETIM is active.

NEIL FERGUS: Most of its terrorist activities have been in Xinjiang. Several car bomb attacks
throughout the 90s, the assassination of a Chinese diplomat in Kyrgyzstan in 2002, even an attack
on the US diplomatic mission in central Asia.

So this is the group that they have focused most of their energies on, because ETIM has an
operational capability within China.

KAREN BARLOW: Clive Williams says disturbed individuals acting alone may also be attracted by the
VIPs attending the games.

CLIVE WILLIAMS: You always get fixated individuals who might act off their bat and try and attack
VIPs and usually they're mentally disordered people. There's always the possibility, I suppose, of
a small Muslim cell trying to do something, but it's going to be very difficult to do something in
China because the Chinese security apparatus is very tight and you can imagine that it's going to
be extremely difficult for anyone to do anything at the Olympics themselves.

KAREN BARLOW: There will be hundreds of thousands of Chinese security personnel in Beijing and at
other Olympic venues, with support from the Chinese military.

Athletes are a possible target, but the Australian Olympic Committee says it is confident with the
security in place.

It has had reports from the Australian Embassy in Beijing and the Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade that there is no known security threat to the Games.

However a spokesman for the AOC says the athletes are being asked to take certain precautions for
the Beijing Games.

Don't go off the beaten track, stay in groups and don't get swept up in demonstrations that may
form around the games.

Professor Clive Williams says security at the games will be tight.

CLIVE WILLIAMS: For example the searches going into venues will be tight, they've already been very
diligent about searches of all the venues as they've been constructed because there's always been a
concern about somebody bringing an IED (improvised explosive device) into a facility. So they'd be
very diligent about that sort of thing.

KAREN BARLOW: But if something did happen, what would you imagine the security response would be?

CLIVE WILLIAMS: Well I think it'd be rather like poking an ants' nest. I think there would be a
frenzied response on the part of China and they would be hugely embarrassed and annoyed about it
and there would be a crackdown on whichever element was responsible for doing it.

But the difficult of attacking something like the Olympics in the general sense is that it's made
up of obviously of international people and ultimately terrorists groups are trying to achieve some
sort of political outcome and the problem you have if you were to attack an international event, is
you end up alienating a lot of people. So, the likelihood of somebody actually attacking the
Olympics themselves are fairly low.

KAREN BARLOW: That's security analyst Professor Clive Williams from Macquarie University, ending
that report from Karen Barlow.