Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Australia fears possible return of former ISIS fighters

Monday 22/July/2019 - 02:57 PM
The Reference
Nahla Abdel Monem

Security reports about the possible return of 40 Australian nationals who had previously left their country for Syria and Iraq to fight within the ranks of ISIS were fodder for the coverage of most Australian newspapers on July 21.

Australia fears possible

Around 230 Australians joined ISIS since its emergence in 2014. Together with the 40 Australian nationals mentioned above, an additional 80 Australian ex-ISIS fighters are stranded in conflict areas. These Australians are fuelling debate on the perils of their possible return to their country.

Australian political forces are now talking about proposed legal amendments aimed at countering the ISIS.

Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Duttun presented earlier a bill that bans for two years the return to Australia of nationals who prove to be linked to terrorist organizations. The same bill gives Australian authorities the right to delay the return of the same nationals for another two years until they reach a full assessment of the dangers they can pose to the Australian society by their return.

Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, said on July 21 that Duttun's bill was an ideal solution to the problem of the possible return of former ISIS fighters.

She expressed hopes that the Italian parliament would approve the bill within the next two weeks so that the government could have the chance to apply this temporary ban on the return of terrorists to Australia.

Nonetheless, some newspapers expressed fears that the bill can be used in a political way.

The Australian Labor Party is one of the major opponents of the bill. Duttun said earlier that party officials needed to be convinced of the bill.

Australia fears possible


Australian fears in this regard are grounded in the structure of the Australian society itself. Australia has been hosting Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a radical Islamist group since 1953. The group has strong media presence in the country.

Group leaders had previously clashed with Prime Minister Scot Morrison, following an ISIS attack in Melbourn on November 9, 2018.

Morrison accused the leaders of Islamist movements in his country of failing to provide security agencies with the necessary information about terrorists.

As a result, the leaders of the group considered Morrison's statements as a war against the Islamic religion.

ISIS also revealed earlier this month that it has plans to establish what it calls the "Province of Australia", especially in mountainous areas in the country.

Australia fears possible

Future studies

Australian think tank, Lowy Institute, called in a recent study on Australian authorities to allow the children of Australian ISIS fighters to return to Australia.

These children, the institute said, must be rehabilitated and then reintegrated into the Australian society.

The institute also called for concerted efforts against radical discourse in society.