Australia today listed Somali Islamist militia al-Shabaab as a terrorist organization, after five men allegedly linked with the group were charged with planning a suicide attack on an army barracks near Sydney.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith issued a special notice outlawing the group, following advice from security agencies that al-Shabaab is either “directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting or fostering terrorist acts,” the government said in a statement.
The listing means it will be an offense to be associated with the group, train with or fund the organization or recruit for it, according to the statement, Bloomberg reports.
Al-Shabaab is fighting to oust the UN-backed Somali government and controls much of southern Somalia. The group was designated a terrorist organization last year by the US, which accuses it of providing a haven and logistical support to al-Qaeda.
Australian police say the group is linked to a plot to storm the Holsworthy Barracks in western Sydney with automatic weapons and kill as many soldiers as possible. Five men, aged between 22 and 33, most of Somali and Lebanese descent, were charged earlier this month with preparing an act of terrorism and will face court again on Oct. 26.
The government statement made no mention of the alleged plot when listing reasons for banning al-Shabaab.
While al-Shabaab has focused its activities within Somalia, terrorism analysts say its aspirations may be expanding as it seeks to recruit people from overseas.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation says as many as 17 Somali-Americans have disappeared from Minneapolis in the past two years, one of whom became a suicide bomber in Somalia.
The FBI says it is concerned citizens may receive weapons and terrorism training from the group and return to America to plot attacks.
Pic: al-Shabaab insurgents of Somalia