Jihad fighters free to return to Australia

The Federal Government may have little option but to allow Australians who have fought with extremist groups in Iraq and Syria back into the country.

The Government has conceded most of those thought to be fighting are not dual nationals but rather first or second-generation Australians, meaning they cannot be prevented from returning home.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told a coalition partyroom meeting yesterday the Government was looking at options to crack down on Australians going to Middle-East war zones to fight with radical groups.

But pushed on why he could not simply revoke the citizenship of those known to be fighting in Iraq and Syria, Mr Morrison said most were Australian-born.

The Government has claimed more than 100 Australians were believed to be fighting with extremist groups in Iraq and Syria.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said yesterday she had cancelled a number of passports of Australians thought to be seeking travel to take part in fighting.

"The Syrian-Iraq conflict is now a growing threat to global security and one of the most serious challenges to Australia's domestic security for some time," Ms Bishop said.

Tony Abbott has also warned the Government was looking at tough measures targeting would-be Australian jihadists.

"The Government that stopped the boats will stop the jihadists," the Prime Minister said.

WA Liberal MP Luke Simpkins yesterday tabled a notice of motion demanding that Australians fighting with "foreign military and extremist causes" be stripped of their citizenship.

"These are exactly the sort of people from whom we should remove Australian citizenship," Mr Simpkins said.

"We do not want them in this country in the future."

Mr Morrison said the Government would be able to detain those returning from war zones but he had no power to stop them returning or to strip them of citizenship.

Laying charges could also prove difficult, with authorities likely to face difficulties in gathering evidence from chaotic war-ravaged countries such as Syria and Iraq.

Mr Abbott claimed last week Australians had been involved in "acts of barbarity" and war crimes in Iraq in recent weeks.

'The Government that stopped the boats will stop the jihadists.'" Prime Minister * Tony Abbott *

The West Australian

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