Australia nabs 2 suspects under foreign fighter laws
03 Nov 2016 - 13:59
MELBOURNE, Australia: Australian counterterrorism police have arrested a Sydney man and a 17-year-old boy on suspicion of breaching foreign fighter laws.
News broadcaster ABC reported that the 24-year-old arrested during raids Thursday was accused of traveling to Syria in July 2013 to fight with the Jabhat al-Nusra group, an affiliate of al-Qaeda.
Counter terrorism police are due to allege that he traveled to the war-torn region with help from Hamdi Al Qudsi, the first Australian to be charged with recruiting people to fight overseas since the start of Syrian war.
The 17-year-old, who faces foreign incursion charges, is accused of attempting to travel to the region to fight with IS in 2015.
On Thursday, Neil Gaughan, the Australian Federal Police’s national manager of counter-terrorism, underlined to the ABC the difficulty of collecting evidence from Syria.
"Obviously we've moved as quickly as we can in relation to this matter due to the risk that these people pose, but also in relation to the ideology that they possess, and that will be something we will be alleging in court later today," he said.
“This has been a protracted investigation and a very difficult one."
Both suspects appeared in court Thursday and were refused bail.
Australia has been engaged in efforts to increase anti-terror measures in recent years, and has banned its citizens from traveling to Mosul in northern Iraq and Syria’s Raqqa province due to the IS presence -- unless they have a "legitimate purpose" for being there.
The country also passed legislation in December to strip dual nationals of their citizenship if they are convicted or suspected of terrorism offenses.