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Monday, May 03, 2004

Australia outlaws PIJ - Palestinian Islamic Jihad

SYDNEY, (AFP) - The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) radical group has been officially outlawed under Australia's counter-terrorism legislation, which carries penalties of up to 25 years' jail, the government announced.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said the government had gazetted a regulation proscribing PIJ and making it an offence to belong to, recruit for, train with, provide training for, or make funds available to the organisation in Australia or abroad.

"Listing this group as a terrorist organisation will serve to deter Australians from any inadvertent involvement in their activities," Ruddock said in a statement.

"The government will not tolerate any involvement in groups or activities that threaten the safety and security of Australians and Australian interests." Ruddock said members of listed terrorist organisations face prosecution and penalties of up to 25 years' imprisonment for what is now a serious criminal offence.

"Law enforcement agencies will pursue those that commit terrorist offences to the full extent of the law," he said.

The PIJ was founded in 1979-80 in Egypt and, along with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, has been regarded as responsible for a significant number of attacks and suicide bombings in Israel and Palestine in recent years.