Muslims in Australia have joined the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq and are fighting in the Middle East, an Australian government minister said on Monday.
“When I say ‘Muslims’, I’m talking about all Muslims in this country,” Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told parliament.
The minister, who is also the head of the Coalition for a National Home, said the Islamic extremist group had taken advantage of the refugee crisis to recruit people who were not welcome in Australia.
“We have been seeing a significant rise in the number of people coming into this country from Syria and from Iraq,” Mr Dutton said.
“They’re coming into our country in large numbers, often accompanied by the Islamic extremists who are taking advantage of this humanitarian crisis to take advantage of Australia’s vulnerability as a place of asylum seeker and refugee processing.”
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has identified more than 1,500 Australians fighting in Syria, Iraq and Libya, including more than 100 Australians fighting with the Islamic militant group, Mr Durden said.
In the past few months, about a dozen Australians have been killed by IS fighters in Iraq and Syria.
Australia has no formal links with IS but some Australians have reportedly been recruited by IS, according to the ABC.
“This has been an international recruitment effort in which we’ve had to look at our own borders to see what we could do to prevent this from happening,” Mr Bowers said.
Australia’s refugee intake is already at a record high and has seen more than 200,000 people arrive since the start of the year.
“I have to say it is hard for me to accept that we are going to be spending another $30 billion on a program that will be no more effective than the program we had before,” he said.
The Liberal MP said he had been told that some of those who had been recruited would be sent back to Australia under a different program.
“There is an element of surprise at this point, that some people have been recruited, and some have not,” Mr O’Dwyer said.