Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected suggestions he bring the three surviving children of Australia’s most notorious terrorist home from Syria.
Khaled Sharrouf’s three remaining children are reportedly being held in a refugee camp in northern Syria, after surviving a fierce battle for Islamic State’s final stronghold in Baghouz before it was overrun by Kurdish fighters..
Their grandmother, Karen Nettleton, has called on the federal government to help the children return to Australia.
Mr Morrison rejected that plea on Monday, saying it was “despicable” that the children’s parents put them in their current situation.
“I’m not going to put one Australian life at risk to try and extract people from these dangerous situations,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“I think it’s appalling that Australians have gone and fought against our values and our way of life and peace-loving countries of the world in joining the Daesh fight,” he said.
“I think it’s even more despicable that they put their children in the middle of it.”
Sharrouf’s daughters – Zaynab, 17, who is pregnant, and Hoda, 16 – and son Hamza, eight, are in the Kurdish-controlled Al-Hawl camp alongside eight other Australian women and their children, including Zaynab’s two daughters, aged three and two, the ABC reported earlier Monday.
His two sons, Abdullah and Zarqawi, are believed to have died aged nine and eight, respectively, alongside their father in a US air strike as they travelled in a car near Raqqa in 2017.
The children’s mother, Tara Nettleton, is believed to have died of a medical condition in 2015, a year after she followed Sharrouf to Syria from Sydney.
Karen Nettleton said her grandchildren should be repatriated.
“They’re with other Australian and foreign fighters [in the camps] and they shouldn’t be in amongst all of that,” she told the ABC.
Meanwhile, a Sydney air-conditioning service tradesman, who also travelled to Syria to join IS in 2015 and is being held in a Kurdish-run camp, has begged the government to let him and his family come back.
Mohammed Noor Masri, 26, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald he wants to get his Australian wife Shayma Assaad, who’s pregnant, and their three boys aged three, two and one out of Syria.
“[I feel] remorseful, regretful. I mean, people make mistakes. And you have to pay the price for your mistake,” Mr Masri, 26, told the news outlets.
“I would prefer to be prosecuted in Australia or under international law because you have things such as human rights and … justice, so that would be the preferred option.”
Masri claims he didn’t fight for IS and worked in a hospital where he maintained refrigerators and airconditioning units.