Australia has stripped five people of their citizenship due to involvement with Islamic State and “serious terrorist-related activity”, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says.
“We have taken a decision that these people have been involved in serious terrorist-related activity,” Mr Dutton told AM.
Australia is a safer place for not having them return.”
The five terrorists are aged in their 20s and 30s, Mr Dutton has not released any information about who they are or what exactly they have been doing with Islamic State.
He shot to global infamy when photos were posted online showing his seven-year-old son in Syria holding a severed head.
Mr Dutton said the five stripped of their Australian citizenship have been acting against Australia’s interests by engaging with terrorism and “effectively chosen to leave the Australian community”.
The anti-terror laws mean Australians can have their citizenship cancelled if they also hold citizenship of another nation and therefore are not left stateless.
“The determination of the Government is to try and keep Australia as safe as possible and we do that by keeping these people far from our shores so if we can deal with foreign fighters away from our shores we do that,” Mr Dutton said.
“If people are coming back here armed with all that knowledge it does provide a significant security risk to Australian citizens so we are very keen to neutralise that wherever we can.”
Stripping the Australian citizenship of the five started last year.
Mr Dutton said it takes a long time to gather evidence including checking the intelligence that has been gathered about each person.
“Obviously when you are talking about a war zone, it is a very different circumstance than a crime zone in Australia in terms of gathering that evidence,” he said.
Mr Dutton said more people could have their Australian citizenship cancelled but said it would not be “large numbers” of people.
He noted that some Australians who have gone overseas to fight with Islamic State have been killed on the battlefield.