At least 20 Australian ISIS fighters have been killed in Syria and Iraq – nearly one in five Australian jihadis.
Following reports that Western Islamic militants were being used as “cannon fodder, bombers and propaganda tools”, Federal Attorney-General George Brandis confirmed the exploitation, saying ISIS was duping foreign fighters into thinking they were an “important part” of a greater religious crusade.
“Australian youths, and many young men and women from Western countries, are being lured by the falsehood of a noble battle against an oppressive enemy,” Brandis said.
“In reality, they are merely taking part in acts of thoughtless violence, in many cases against innocent civilians, on behalf of ISIL, which is intent on recklessly enslaving, raping and murdering those with a contrary view to their own.”
ASIO says approximately 70 Australians are still thought to be fighting in the Middle East, while another 20 are believed to have returned to Australian shores.
This month Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced 75 Australians in Syria and Iraq have had their passports cancelled based on national security advice. It has also been reported that the government has refused to issue passports to another 10 planning to travel to the region.
In October the Federal Government introduced the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill, making it illegal to travel to areas declared as terrorist zones, without a specific humanitarian or family purpose.
Any Australian national found illegally visiting the region could face up to 10 years in jail.
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