Protecting Australia: Community dialogue to surround terrorists and their extremist ideas
In a heated debate about protecting Australian society from potential terrorism risks, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) warned that the proposed law by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton on stripping dual citizens of Australian passports would hamper police efforts to bring criminal charges against suspects and would increase the risk the spread of terrorism in the country.
The security organization issued the warning on September 15, objecting to material that automatically stripped dual nationals of their Australian citizenship if they were involved in terrorism-related behavior. ASIO called for the authorities to replace those laws with an audit body to revoke citizenship, only if it was in the interest of Australia.
ASIO said it was too early to determine whether the laws acted as a deterrent, acknowledging that they had prevented some people from returning to Australia, which meant that they were "incapable" of carrying out any attack in the country or face extremism. But it said that this is happening in balance with the emerging security challenges related to the possibilities of locating individuals abroad, and they should be careful about preventing them from harming the interests of the country.
Kicking suspects out of the country would not eliminate any direct threat they pose to Australian or other interests overseas, and it would not prevent them from using technology to inspire, encourage or direct activities that are detrimental to security. This reduces the state's capabilities to mitigate the potential threat, and may also have unintended or unexpected negative security consequences.
ASIO said that monitoring and investigating suspects would be more challenging when they are abroad, and that it would be better to maintain maximum visibility and control of individuals by having another set of options available, as there are likely to be occasions when the security outcome is reduced, if the suspects are out of control.
The organization suggested that the denial of citizenship, if it is finally approved, is better to go hand in hand with a number of other tools so that the state can protect its borders from extremist ideas.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has introduced a series of laws based on revoking Australian citizenship from dual nationals who were involved in acts of terrorism or those who have traveled to fight in Syria and Iraq, and to prevent their return to the country again. The laws are currently being reviewed by the Joint Parliamentary Committee concerned with intelligence and security, which is due to submit its legislative opinion on the decision by December 1.
The Ministry of Home Affairs defends its legal proposals that were introduced to address the threat posed by extremists to Australia and its interests, while other political currents complain that this law increases the risk of making people stateless, especially as it has some material about single nationals who traveled to participate in terrorist groups abroad.
In this regard, the Lowy Institute issued a study on the dangers of ISIS members and their children returning to Australia. The paper states that state institutions have a major responsibility in the rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees, especially children, because leaving them without rehabilitation poses a threat to national security.
The study also pointed to the need for concerted government and community efforts to protect Australia from the dangers of radical Islamist ideas adopted by some groups in the country, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, but without relinquishing humanitarian responsibilities towards Australian children who were born in ISIS tents or were forcibly taken to a country they don't know.