Australia Charges 5 Men over ‘Plot to Join ISIS’ in Syria

Australia Charges 5 Men over ‘Plot to Join ISIS’ in Syria
Sun May 15, 2016 14:54:13

Australia has charged five young men arrested earlier this week on suspicion of planning to join the Takfiri ISIS terrorist group in Syria.

Aged between 21 and 31, the men were charged on Saturday with terrorism offences, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

“The men ... were each charged with one count of making preparations for incursions into foreign countries for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities,” the Australian police said in a statement.

The five were detained on Tuesday after towing a seven-meter motor boat almost 3,000 kilometers (1,865 miles) from Melbourne to Queensland, where they had planned to set sail to Indonesia and the Philippines en route to Syria, police said.

Security forces also said there was no current or impending threat of a terrorist act to the Australian community from the case.

The suspects are slated to appear before a court in Queensland on Monday.

On Sunday, Australian Attorney-General George Brandis said that the men’s “intentions to travel to the Middle East to engage in terrorist war fighting were known to the authorities,” and that their passports had earlier been canceled.

“Their passports were cancelled by the Foreign Minister [Julie Bishop] because the relevant level of concern about their intentions [was] known to us,” Brandis told reporters.

“There [are] a number of people in Australia under surveillance, and in the event that they were to attempt a terrorist crime, or to attempt to leave Australia in order to perpetrate terrorist war fighting overseas, then they would be taken into custody,” he noted.

Australia has been increasingly worried about its nationals fighting with terrorist groups such as ISISin Iraq and Syria.

The country’s Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said last month that some 100 Australians had left the country to join such groups.

The Australian government has ratified a law criminalizing travel to ISIS strongholds, including those in Syria and Iraq. Individuals charged with the crime could face up to 10 years in prison.

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