Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop Thursday said she was deeply concerned about 150 Australians learning the “terrorist trade” fighting alongside Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria. The country’s top diplomat was briefed by her intelligence analysts this week on the number of Australians, some dual citizens, taking up arms alongside rebel groups.
We are concerned that Australians are working with them, becoming radicalized, learning the terrorist trade and if they come back to Australia, of course it poses a security threat and we’re doing what we can to identify them.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she had cancelled a number of passports on the advice of security agencies in a bid to reduce the security threat to Australia. She did not say whether the passports were canceled to prevent Australians leaving or returning. Australian police have charged several people in recent months with recruiting fighters and supporting the insurgency in Syria. Several people have been prevented from leaving Australia on suspicion that they intend to fight. Australia sent 2,000 troops to support U.S. and British forces in the 2003 Iraq invasion. Bishop said neither the United States nor Iraq had yet asked for Australia’s help in the latest crisis.