News / Asia

Australia Targets Homegrown Terrorists

Phil Mercer

Australian police have issued arrest warrants for two Australian Islamic State fighters after one of them is pictured online brandishing the severed heads of Syrian government soldiers. 

The two suspects have been identified by Australian police as Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar.

They are thought to be with the radical Islamic State fighters in Syria.

Photographs posted on social media showed Elomar holding severed heads in his hands, and he boasts that he would cut the throats of infidels.

Notorious Australians

The two men from Sydney are considered to be the two most notorious Australians fighting with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
Neil Gaughan, Australia’s deputy federal police commissioner, said the two are now wanted on terrorism-related charges.

“Words don't adequately describe how abhorrent those photographs are," Gaughan said.

"In 30 years of policing, it is probably one of the worst things, if not the worst thing, I have seen. The Australian government, rightly so, came out very strongly on Friday criticizing in the very strongest possible terms the type of behavior that those two gentlemen are allegedly involved in," he said.

"(We) can assure the Australian community that we have current first instance warrants for their arrest and as soon as they set foot on Australian soil they will be taken into custody," Gaughan said.

It is understood that Elomar and Sharrouf had links to a teenager from the Australian city of Melbourne. 

Authorities said that 18-year old Adam Dahman blew himself up in Baghdad in a suicide bombing that killed five people last week.

Dahman was questioned by Australia’s intelligence agencies before he flew to the Middle East last year. But authorities say they had insufficient powers to stop him from leaving the country.
In Canberra, the government is preparing new laws that would make it easier to prosecute terrorism cases.

Homegrown extremists

Australia Attorney-General George Brandis said there is a small, yet dangerous, group of homegrown extremists in his country.
“The one thing no Australian should ever think is that this is a problem that exists on the other side of the world, because while it may take shape on the other side of the world, the number of Australians who are participating in this war fighting in Syria and Iraq shows that this is a problem that exists and germinates within our suburbs, within the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne and Brisbane, among a very small number of people - a very, very small number of people - but nevertheless, this is a product which has a domestic germination," Brandis said.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organization wants greater powers to monitor the phones and emails of terrorism suspects.

Organization Director-General David Irvine said, "We've always been worried about the threat of home grown terrorism. In the last 10 years we have actually stopped four mass casualty attacks occurring in Australia when we stopped them quite early in their planning stages."

The government estimated that there are 150 Australians fighting with radical groups overseas.

Richard Barrett is a former British diplomat and senior vice president of the strategic intelligence provider The Soufan Group, which advises governments on security and intelligence matters.
Barrett said the concern is that Western fighters in Iraq and Syria will carry out atrocities when they get back home.
“There has been a man, a Frenchman, who went back to Europe and killed four people outside the Jewish museum in Brussels not very long ago," Barrett said.

"He had been with the Islamic State, or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as it was then, for about a year beforehand. So clearly even if it is not radicalizing people to that point, their participation in that fight clearly it is attracting people who could very well commit terrorist acts back in their home countries, and I think that, you know, is a very legitimate concern," he said. 
Muslim groups in Australia said that organizations such as the Islamic State are winning over young people, thanks to slick online propaganda campaigns.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Leslie S from: Regional NSW
August 02, 2014 6:47 AM
Its about time for this Federal Government to take action against Muslims who leave Australia to fight for terrorists organizations, If this is not stopped out right who is to say that these Muslims are not preparing to do harm to Australian's on home soil, The Muslim community that reside in Australia now can not be trusted and must be watched for any home grown terrorist activity that may cause harm to law abiding citizens on home soil its time for our Federal Police to start arresting Muslims in Mosques that preach hatred and death on Australian soil if not maybe Australians need to take action our selves to protect our own country men inside Australia.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs