There are concerns that jihadis who have returned to Australia from fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria could be radicalising and recruiting more extremists to their cause, Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop has revealed.
Ms Bishop said around 40 fighters have returned from the war-torn region, many of whom are not in custody, and are a serious security threat as they may be passing on the deadly skills they have acquired to others.
'The government is concerned that foreign fighters who have gained fighting experience in the Middle East will return to pass this knowledge on to violent extremists in our region,' Ms Bishop told the Daily Telegraph.
There are concerns that jihadis who have returned to Australia from fighting in Iraq and Syria could be recruiting more extremists to their cause, Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop said
'Foreign fighters inspire and incite terror, pass on skills and can attract more extremists to terror networks.'
Only a small number of the returning fighters – thought to be as few as two – have been prosecuted out of the 40 who have returned from the region in the past five years, the Telegraph reports.
The remainder are free because authorities did not have enough evidence to jail them.
Ms Bishop also warned that ISIS has been working to set up as base in the southern Philippines.
Around 40 fighters have returned from the war-torn region, many of whom are not in custody. File photo
Fighters in Marawi over recent months have declared their allegiance to the terror group and waved its banners, she said.
Now, Ms Bishop said Australia will begin sharing intelligence about terrorists with Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to ensure any returning fighters are detained.
'Foreign fighters also pose a threat to Australians travelling overseas who can potentially be caught up in ISIL-inspired or directed attacks,' she said.
More than 200 have Australians fled the country to join the conflict in Iraq and Syria in the past five years.
At least 100 are believed to still be in the region – and Ms Bishop recently confirmed that about 80 had been killed.