Isis terrorist threat to New Zealand remains unchanged

Kiwi jihadi Mark Taylor who is also known as the bumbling jihadi.

Kiwi jihadi Mark Taylor who is also known as the bumbling jihadi.

Islamic State remains a major terrorist threat to New Zealand, as spy agencies reveal the number of people with links to the extremist group remain unchanged.

A New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS) watch list of as many as 40 people in New Zealand with links to Islamic State was first revealed three years ago, when the Government announced legislation targeting so-called "foreign fighters" who are either already fighting alongside , or are trying to.

Others on the watch list include those who are regularly reading its violent propaganda.

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The ousting of Isis from its strongholds in Syria and Iraq has not lessened the threat, with many countries fearing a rise in home grown terrorism as a result of "foreign fighters" returning home.

One of only two known faces of New Zealand "jihadis" - the so-called bumbling jihadi, Mark Taylor, is on a US watchlist as a global terrorist.

Taylor - who earned his nick name after giving away his location on social media - has actively encouraged terrorist attacks in Australia  and New Zealand.

He was last known to be in Syria but he has not been heard for some time.

 Stuff has been told by those who were once close to Taylor it was his wish to "die for Allah".

Stuff has also been told that Taylor divorced his previous wife for a jihadi bride in Syria.

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In a briefing to the new Government, the  SIS revealed numbers on the watchlist remained unchanged - and said it included people who  "are assessed to represent an actual or potential threat to New Zealand related to terrorism.

"For example those seeking to carry out a domestic terror attack, foreign terrorist fighters , or individuals providing financial or facilitation support."

"Violent extremist ideology and messaging" was primarily accessed through online content and social media platforms and continued to resonate with a small number of individuals in New Zealand.

"NZSIS continues to investigate individuals for supporting or attempting to join Isis in Syria and Iraq."

The foreign fighters legislation enables the Government to cancel the passports of those who do so.

The briefing to the new minister, Andrew Little, also refers to the threat of espionage by foreign states, and  New Zealand is not immune.

"Such activities in New Zealand over the past year included attempts to access sensitive government and private sector information and attempts to unduly influence expat communities."

The report refers to the "four core" national security threat areas - cyber terrorism, violent extremism and espionage and initially blanked out the fourth threat, raising speculation about a mystery threat.

Little and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern initially defended the secrecy saying it was not always possible to talk about national security issues. But the report was later corrected to show the fourth threat was regional stability in the Pacific. Further details were redacted, however - like much of the report.

The report also revealed a rise in cyber terrorism and cyber espionage, with the national cyber security centre responding to 396 incidents, up 58 on the previous year.

 - Stuff