Terrorists returning to Australia go free as prosecutors battle to make charges stick

Only two people have been prosecuted under Australia's returning foreign fighters laws, despite more than 40 coming back to the country from warzones, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Difficulties in obtaining evidence from Iraqi and Syrian warzones has made it difficult for prosecutors to make charges stick in court, Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Counter Terrorism Policy Centre's Jacinta Carroll said.

“The Australian public is rightly concerned about returning fighters, but it’s very challenging to get evidence sufficient for a prosecution when someone is engaged in a conflict zone in areas that are controlled by terrorists,” she said.

Attorney General George Brandis would not say how many prosecutions had happened but Ms Carroll said the number was just two.

She said one man had been convicted of fighting with al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra last year while another was charged with recruitment. He had not left Australia though.

Mr Bradis told the Telegraph risk assessments were conducted on returning fighters and those found to have colluded with terrorists in key areas would "face the full extent of the law”.