Intelligence sharing pivotal to national security against terrorist plots

By Stefan Dimitrof

A teenager was arrested and charged with offences for planning a terror attack in Auckland last year after becoming radicalised.

According to security experts, that ordeal has presented some important lessons in protecting crowded places in the city.

The teen was arrested last year in September after communicating plans to an undercover police officer in an online conversation where he shared details of potential targets and the way he would carry out his attack.

Chris Kumeroa (Te Ati-Haunui-A-Paparangi) and Dr Bridgette Sullivan-Taylor from The Crowded Places Security Advisory Group joined to discuss the danger.

Kumeroa said New Zealand’s online security agencies needed more resources after there being so many more possible threats to the nation.

Finding what makes them susceptible

“Understanding what the key drivers are sitting in behind that, health issues, social isolation all those things that make them a little bit more susceptible to radicalise views and extremist thoughts.”

Sullivan-Taylor said post-covid New Zealand was an exciting time for everyone, with domestic and international tourism taking off leading into summer, with events like the recent rugby world cup and the Fifa world cup coming up in the future.

Sullivan-Taylor said New Zealand needed to ensure it had public and private partnerships between the state, officials and intelligence that could share intelligence with event organisers, “making sure we are secure and safe”.

They said New Zealand's terror threat level was at medium and had been at that level since 2019. and Kumeroa said that the threat is still prevalent.

“We’ve had two events, March 15 and recently last year with the New Lynn mall and obviously this one that has been picked up by the state which is really awesome," Kumeroa said.

“[We  have to] figure out who is having these extremist views and what might be the red flags we can pick up on, intervene and do something to prevent the incident occurring.”