15 Australian fighters killed in Iraq, Syria

Sydney - Fifteen Australians, including two young suicide bombers, are believed to have died fighting in Syria and Iraq, intelligence chief David Irvine said on Wednesday, warning that espionage and foreign intervention threats were increasing.

Canberra has expressed alarm that around 60 Australians have joined violent jihadist groups such as Islamic State (IS) overseas.

One Islamic State fighter, Australian man Khaled Sharrouf, sparked outrage when an image of his Sydney-raised son posing with the rotting head of a Syrian soldier was reportedly posted on Twitter.

"The draw of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq is significant and includes more Australians than any other previous extremist conflicts put together," Irvine said.

He said the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) believed the number of citizens posing a potential security threat had increased substantially as a result.

"ASIO believes there are about 60 or so Australians fighting with the two principal extremist al-Qaeda derivatives, Jahabat-al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Syria or Iraq," Irvine said.

"We believe 15 Australians have already been killed in the current conflicts, including two young Australian suicide bombers."

'Malicious insiders'

Irvine said 100 more people in Australia were "actively supporting" these extremist groups by recruiting new fighters, grooming suicide bombing candidates, and providing funds and equipment.

Australia has boosted its efforts to counter terrorism on fears that the bloody conflicts in Iraq and Syria are creating a new generation of militants, including increasing spending on security and intelligence and strengthening terror laws.

Irvine said intelligence agencies were concerned about the dangers posed when some of these people - potentially with a commitment to violence and training in the use of weapons or bomb-making - returned to Australia.

He also warned that the age-old threats of espionage and foreign interference were on the rise against Australia.

"I can say that we are seeing growth in espionage and foreign interference against Australia, both through cyber and more traditional methods," he said.

"Further, the threat to government information from self motivated malicious insiders has increased."

Asked about the killing of United States journalist James Foley, beheaded on a graphic video posted online last week, Irvine said he had no view on whether media outlets should have shown the footage.

But he added: "It has, whether you liked it or not... brought home to us an understanding of the nature of what we are dealing with".

Ashley Marks 2014-08-27 10:49:56 AM
one way for Australia to get rid of their problem children
Kiwi 2014-08-27 11:22:00 AM
Invite these people here suffer the consequences. The UK has a serious problem already where no one can enter suburbs where these radicals have taken root.
Ndlovu Bigone 2014-08-27 01:07:32 PM
Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.
Sean Mitchell 2014-08-27 07:55:33 PM
The supreme irony is that no majority moslem country has ever achieved as just, sophisticated, egalitarian, democratic and sophisticated a society as Australia or any other liberal western democracy.
Zaba Da 2014-08-29 07:00:10 AM
lslam to kill an apostate...I tell tell you..The prophet only warning people that way to protect them from hell fire..In history the Prophet Muhamad never killed any body who turn away from islam..it is only a warning to protect his new community,like cutting hand,and all hudud laws..it is only a warning.for the past people ..who are brutal and ignorat..all over the at taht time have very strict laws to protect human life.not only mulims....not only non mulsim not understand islam..there are too many muslims,who are not understand islam..if you not Islam .you will be burnt "forever" in hell fire.."forever" you know well this word..forever..I m going to tell you the truth..even it is bitter.As others,not all muslim are having true path..many of them are ignorant,especially in politic and civilization and in philosophy of islamic laws..Even Quran urged them to have the two,but most of muslims are ignorant.It is not God fault.and the Prophet.It is muslims who do to many wrong things.History show the west more brutal than muslims were.In any nation there are times of chaos on them and times of peace.It is muslim world times of chaos.In history the Christian in the west fighting each other badly in world war 1 and 2.13 million perished.In Rome, Greece and ect..at the past they always engage in wars among themselves.North and south America engage in war at Abraham Lincoln times..You count how many people perished in Christian world and Muslims world in all wars they had been.