Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

Counter Terrorism

Counter Terrorism

Counter-terrorism prosecutions play an important part in deterring those who seek to cause harm to persons or damage to property with the intention of coercing or intimidating Australia or its people to advance a religious or political cause. In 2002, following the attacks on New York City and Washington on 11 September 2001, the Criminal Code was significantly amended to include a range of counter terrorism offences. These offences cover a wide range of conduct relating to terrorist acts, terrorist organisations and financing terrorism. In addition other Commonwealth and State legislation may be applicable to violent conduct that is motivated by political or religious ideology.

The CDPP prosecutes counter-terrorism matters through the Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Practice Group.

As with other matters, we assess counter-terrorism prosecution briefs of evidence from investigative agencies in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth. Additionally, we provide legal assistance to those investigative agencies prior to the compilation of those briefs of evidence. The CDPP contributes to Australian Government projects relating to counter-terrorism.

Counter-terrorism prosecutions are often highly contested and can be the subject of multiple legal challenges. The resolution of these matters can take a number of years as legal arguments and appeals progress through the court system.

As at 30 June 2013, there were 2 people facing charges for counter-terrorism offences. Another 8 people were involved in appeals arising from counter-terrorism prosecutions.

Some Offences

  • s.101.1(1) Criminal Code – terrorist act
  • s.101.5(1) Criminal Code – collecting or making documents likely to facilitate terrorist acts (knowledge)
  • s.102.7(1) Criminal Code – providing support to a terrorist organisation (knowledge)


The maximum penalty for engaging in a terrorist act is life imprisonment.

The maximum penalty for collecting or making a document knowing it is likely to facilitate terrorist acts is 15 years imprisonment.

The maximum penalty for providing support to a terrorist organisation knowing that the organisation is a terrorist is a terrorist organisation is 25 years imprisonment.


The CDPP provides sentencing data to the Commonwealth Sentencing Database (CSD). Permission to access the CSD can be obtained at

Significant Cases

  • R v Fattal & Ors [2013] VSCA 276
  • R v Khazaal [2012] HCA 26
  • Lodhi v R (2007) 179 ACrimR 470

Relevant Legislation

Criminal Code
Criminal Code Regulations
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979
Charter of United Nations Act 1945
Crimes (Biological Weapons) Act 1976
Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act 1978
Crimes (Hostages) Act 1989
Crimes (Internationally Protected Persons) Act 1976
Crimes Act 1914
National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act 2004
National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Regulations 2005
Surveillance Devices Act 2004
Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979

Law Reform


Terrorism legislation including the Criminal Code has been frequently amended since 2002.


  • COAG Review of Counter-Terrorism Legislation Report 2013
  • Counter-Terrorism White Paper 2010
  • Street Review 2008
  • Report of the Inquiry into Potential Reforms of Australia’s National Security Legislation by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence & Security 2013

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