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 Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs