Australian authorities have intercepted seven suspected jihadists trying to travel to Malaysia from Australia – the largest single group to be stopped to date.
Prime minister Tony Abbott said the men, some of which were known to government authorities, were stopped amid fears they planned to fight for terrorist groups in the Middle East.
He said that the new development was an indication of “the continuing allure of this death cult”.
Immigration minister Peter Dutton confirmed that at least five Australians were stopped at Sydney International Airport on August 12.
“That follows a number of people who have been off-loaded by the counter-terrorism unit officers, in particular in Sydney and Melbourne, over a period of time,” he said.
“Obviously, particularly where investigations are ongoing, we are not going to provide a running commentary in relation to that.”
News Limited reports that authorities were alerted to the men, aged in their 20s, due to the large sums of money they were carrying. One was carrying $12,000 – exceeding the cash amount $10,000 that can be carried oversea without being declared.
Their passports were immediately suspended.
The Daily Telegraph reports the number of Australian jihadists believed to have been killed in the Middle East now stands at 39.
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