Oz hurt by new terror border bungle
Published 15/08/2014 | 07:20
Australia's prime minister has admitted the nation's border security is not good enough after a second suspected jihadist slipped through the net to the Middle East.
A 19-year-old Sydney man left the country using his brother's passport last week, but was detained on arrival in the United Arab Emirates and deported, Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper said. A notorious terrorist left Sydney in a similar security breach in December last year.
The bungles are embarrassing for Australia which, along with the United States, will ask United Nations member countries next month to co-operate in preventing militants from travelling to Iraq and Syria to fight for the Islamic State terrorist group.
Prime minister Tony Abbott said the 19-year-old would-be fighter, who has not been named, "did arouse concerns" when he was cleared by immigration officials at Sydney Airport. Mr Abbott did not describe those concerns, but said they were confirmed before the plane reached the UAE.
"While this person did get out of Australia, he wasn't able to make his way to the ISIL battle front, so that's a little bit better than the previous occasion," he said, referring to the al Qaida splinter group leading Sunni militants in Iraq, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, now known as Islamic State.
"But it's not good enough," he added.
The government plans to spend an additional 630 million Australian dollars (£355 million) on intelligence, law enforcement and border protection agencies over the next four years to enhance security, including a roll out of biometric screening at airports, Mr Abbott says.
Sydney-born convicted terrorist Khaled Sharrouf used the passport of his brother, Mostafa Sharrouf, to leave Australia in December last year to fight with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The Australian government had banned him from leaving the country because of the terrorism threat he posed.
Khaled Sharrouf, 33, has since horrified the world by posting on his Twitter account a photograph of his seven-year-old son clutching the severed head of a Syrian soldier.
US secretary of state John Kerry this week described the image as "one of the most disturbing, stomach-turning, grotesque photographs ever displayed".
The latest suspected jihadist appeared in a Sydney court on Wednesday, charged with using an Australian passport that was not issued to him, the newspaper said. He did not apply for bail and remains in custody.
Mr Abbott did not say whether he had been on a terrorist watch list that would have prevented him from leaving Australia on his own passport.
Sharrouf was among nine Muslim men accused in 2007 of stockpiling bomb-making materials and plotting terrorist attacks in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's largest cities.
He pleaded guilty to terrorism offences and was jailed for four years in 2009.