Prime Minister Tony Abbott has declared “we will deal with them” when announcing plans for an expanded extradition treaty to detain and deport potential Australian jihadists from Turkey.
A closer working relationship between Australian and Turkish security agencies should make it harder for potential jihadists to travel on to Syria and Iraq to fight with Islamic State terrorists.
Mr Abbott has been holding talks in Ankara and Istanbul before travelling to the Gallipoli peninsula for the centenary Anzac commemorations.
He met with his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Following the talks, Mr Abbott revealed Australian liaison officers will increasingly work with Turkish police and intelligence agencies.
There’ll also be new annual counter terrorism talks.
But it’s the promise of a new extradition treaty to return foreign fighters caught in Turkey that’s the key plank of the plan.
“If the Turks apprehend foreign fighters of Australian origin we will have a set of protocols in place for dealing with them,” Mr Abbott said.
“We want them arrested, prosecuted and jailed for a very long time and this is where this close cooperation between Australian and Turkish authorities will help because we will identify them better.”
The prime minister said the deal would help ensure that fighters “can’t do any damage back in Australia”.
“It means serious information sharing between Australian and Turkish authorities in the shared interest of combating terrorism wherever it occurs,” he said.
Mr Davutoglu on Wednesday said his government was committed to stopping potential terrorists.
“If Australia asks something from us like detaining these people, deporting these people, Turkey is ready to take such steps,” he said.
A number of Australians are believed to have used Turkey as their entry point before crossing the border to fight with ISIL militants.
They include Melbourne teenager Jake Bilardi, who blew himself up in an ISIL operation in Iraq, Melbourne model Sharky Jama, who was shot dead fighting for ISIL in Syria, and 17-year-old Abdullah Elmir, who appears in a number of propaganda videos.
Mr Abbott has reiterated his warning to those who would follow them.
“You will do no good and you will come to no good,” he said.
However, there’s uncertainty as to how effective the new cooperation deal will be.
Terrorism expert Greg Barton says more information for Turkish authorities would undoubtedly leave them in a better position to track and detain foreign fighters.
But there was a lot of support for ISIL in Turkey, and while it could control official crossing points, it won’t be so easy in the smaller border villages where there was no fencing or perimeters.
“It’s going to be really tough,” he told Sky News.
Mr Erdogan on Wednesday launched one of his strongest attacks yet against IS jihadists saying the group was a “virus” working to destroy the Muslim community.
While Ankara has been criticised in recent months for not doing enough to halt the advance of ISIL to its borders, Mr Abbott on Thursday insisted “Turkey is making very big and improving efforts” to stop foreign fighters entering Syria and Iraq.