National Security

Liberal Senator James Paterson welcomes government’s official listing of the Houthis as a terrorist organisation

May 24, 2024

Friday 24 May 2024
Laura Gassby

Liberal Senator James Paterson says he is pleased with the Albanese government’s decision to list Ansar Allah, also known as the Houthis, as a terrorist organisation under the criminal code.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on Thursday released a statement announcing the new designation for the Yemen-based militant group which has been attacking cargo ships in the Red Sea since the Israel-Hamas war began last year.

“Ansar Allah’s violent attacks in the Gulf of Aden and surrounding region have killed civilians, taken hostages and severely disrupted navigational rights and freedoms in the waters around the Arabian Peninsula, undermining maritime security and global prosperity,” the statement said.

“The Government’s decision to list Ansar Allah follows advice from Australia’s security agencies that Ansar Allah is directly or indirectly engaged in the preparing, planning, assisting in, or fostering of terrorist attacks.”

The formal listing means it is now an offence to be a member of, associate with members of, participate in, train with or provide support to the Houthis. Offences are punishable with up to 25 years in jail.

Mr Paterson responded to the news via a post to X on Friday, questioning why the decision, though welcome, took “so long” to come about.

“It’s welcome that the Albanese government has finally listed the Houthis as a terrorist organisation,” he wrote.

“But what took so long?

“The Opposition first called on them to do so on 9 January and the Biden administration did so on 17 Jan.”

He doubled down on this view in a media release published the same day, revealing he called for this listing in a letter sent to Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil and Mr Dreyfus in January.

Mr Paterson said the Houthis have “for years” targeted civilians as part of the conflict in Yemen.

“This organisation has directly attempted military strikes on our ally Israel, and has also disrupted international shipping through the Red Sea,” he said.

“These attacks prompted the US Government – in conjunction with its allies – to launch Operation Prosperity Guardian to protect cargo ships, but regrettably the Albanese government refused to send Australian navy vessels to support this operation.”

The Liberal Senator then went on to repeat the Coalition’s request to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation, citing its record of “egregious acts of violence” and support of other listed groups like Hamas.

The Opposition “stands ready” to offer bipartisan support to enable the listing of the IRGC, he said.

“We urge the government’s swift and positive consideration of this issue.”

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