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Australia Detains 7 Jihadi Suspects

FILE - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks during a press conference.

Australian authorities say they have detained seven people who were apparently trying to travel to the Middle East to join Islamic extremist groups.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Thursday the "young Australians" were stopped at an airport as they were attempting to fly out of the country. He did not give any details about where the group was headed, where they were intercepted, or their ages, gender or identity.

"This indicates the allure of this death cult. It shows the importance of the most vigorous action at home and abroad to disrupt, to degrade, to destroy this menace to the freedom and security of the world," Prime Minister Abbott said.

Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton confirmed there "was an incident at Sydney international airport on the 12th of August," but said he cannot provide a "running commentary" on terror investigations.

"We are concerned about the number of people presenting at airports, particularly younger people, who might be seeking to travel overseas for reasons that would horrify Australians and their parents and their family and community, no doubt, as well," Dutton said.

Australia's Daily Telegraph reported Thursday that a "gang of five would-be terrorists" from Sydney were stopped on August 12 at the airport as they tried to head together for Syria and Iraq.

Quoting an unnamed intelligence official, the paper said the young men, who were each carrying around $10,000 in cash, were intercepted as they tried to board an initial flight to Malaysia.

Their passports were taken the following day, after they again tried to leave the country, according to the paper, which said a total of 39 Australians have been killed while fighting for Middle East extremist groups.

Over 100 Australians are thought to have joined the Islamic State. This has prompted Australia to carry out several counter-terrorism raids across the nation and introduce tough laws that would strip dual nationals of their citizenship if they join a terrorist group.

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