SYDNEY (AFP) – Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Tuesday said Canberra was treating as genuine a call by the Islamic State group for Muslims to indiscriminately kill Australians, issued after anti-terrorism raids foiled an alleged abduction plot.
The militants on Monday released a statement urging the deaths of citizens of all countries taking part in the US-led coalition against the extremists. Australia was mentioned, along with the United States, Canada and France.
Shortly after, an Algerian group linked to Islamic State claimed the kidnapping of a French national and threatened to kill him within 24 hours unless Paris halts air strikes in Iraq.
Bishop told national radio that Australia was clearly a target, just hours before the US and Arab allies unleashed bombs and Tomahawk cruise missiles on IS targets in eastern Syria.
“Our agencies are treating this threat as genuine and it’s quite apparent that ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) is prepared to take on anyone who doesn’t share its views,” she said.
“So we are a threat, not because of what we’re prepared to do to combat ISIL but because of who we are.
“ISIL is killing Shia, Sunni, Kurds, Christians; they’re killing aid workers, journalists,” Bishop added from New York, where she is attending UN meetings. “So no-one is safe in their presence. That’s why we’re so committed to containing and degrading and destroying ISIL as far as we can in cooperation with other countries.”
The threat against the coalition members came just days after anti-terrorism raids in Sydney and Brisbane sought to disrupt an alleged plot by IS supporters to abduct and behead a member of the public.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament on Tuesday that Australian citizens should not be cowed by the threats.
“Everything we do at home and abroad is directed against terrorism, not religion and I urge Australians to go about their normal lives because the whole point of terrorism is to prevent us from being ourselves,” he said.
Australia has deployed 600 troops to the United Arab Emirates to join the international coalition gearing up for a campaign to eradicate the extremists.