Intelligence experts want Australian ISIS fighters brought home
AUSTRALIA'S jihadists and their families should be brought back to Australia where authorities have a better chance to monitor them either in custody or surveillance, Australian intelligence agencies have briefed the government.
As debate continues over whether Aussie jihadists should be allowed to return and or could be rehabilitated or disowned, intelligence agencies including ASIO have said they should be brought back to give authorities a better chance to counter their hate and plots.
A review of potential jihadist returnees by intelligence authorities and partly based on overseas Five Eyes experiences, was passed onto government about the time of the creation of the "temporary exclusion order scheme" introduced into legislation in February to manage returnees.
Under the scheme, battle-hardened Aussie jihadists over the age of 14 years can be blocked from legally obtaining a passport and or legally returning for up to two years if reasonable grounds exist that to do so would pose a danger to the community.
That was a compromise under human rights and citizenship laws, but security reviews suggest the sooner they are returned the better; the plot to bring down a plane on a flight between Sydney and Abu Dhabi in 2017 has been cited as an example of extremism directed from overseas which Australia only became aware courtesy of Israeli intelligence services.
Australian authorities are currently in contact with at least five Australians who went overseas to fight with Islamic State, which has largely collapsed in the Middle East.
One of the ISIS supporters who has asked to come back from Syria, where he was captured, is Sydney-born Mahir Absar Alam who grew up in South Australia and was living and studying in Melbourne before heading overseas.
In Syria since 2014, he linked with Adelaide doctor-turned-IS recruit Tareq Kamleh and was also in contact with the family of notorious Sydney-born fighter Khaled Sharrouf.
Melbourne jihadi bride Zehra Duman, who left Melbourne to join ISIS in 2014 and shortly after married Australian fighter Mahmoud Abdullatif, who has since been killed, is now in a Syrian detention camp but wants to come home despite jihadi recruiting and reportedly sending emails calling for an attack on Australians and herself once vowing martyrdom.
NSW Minister for Counter Terrorism Anthony Roberts declined to comment on specifics but said bringing them home was correct.
"It's in our interest to actually have those people in custody rather than overseas quite frankly," he said. "It's actually in our interest to have them here in Australia where they can be monitored or they can be placed in custody and under surveillance.
"These are the days of the internet, these are the days where you can have an individual overseas basically issuing instructions and orders to people over here, sending them information on how to carry out acts of extremism, and it is better for us to have them here where they are either in a (correctional) facility or monitored than have them out of our hands where we have no ability to either monitor them or have them in incarceration."
A senior intelligence source, speaking to News Corp on condition of anonymity, confirmed the messaging to government over the fate of up to 100 fighters and said exclusion orders were good, but so too were "return permits" that would allow them to return immediately as long as they agreed to have recorded where they would live, work, stay and their circle of friends.
"The feeling of our intelligence agencies both here and abroad is that we actually want these people back, better to have them back from war zones and put them in a controlled environment."
At least 230 Australians travelled to Syria or Iraq to fight alongside ISIS with up to 95 killed in combat.