Australia has cancelled the citizenship of five individuals due to their involvement with the ISIS terrorist group overseas.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement on Aug. 9 that the five individuals, who were dual nationals, have been acting contrary to Australia’s interest by engaging in terrorism.
The ISIS terrorist group “is opposed to Australia, its people and its democratic rights and privileges,” Dutton said in the statement. “Fundamentally, citizenship requires allegiance to this country.”
Under section 35 of the Australian Citizenship Act, an individual holding dual nationality will automatically lose their Australian citizenship if they “act contrary to their allegiance to Australia by engaging in terrorism-related conduct.”
This includes any individual who serves in the armed forces of a country at war with Australia or fights for or in the service of a declared terrorist organisation.
ISIS has been declared a terrorist organisation in Australia since May 2016.
These changes came into effect in 2015 and had already been applied to strip identified terrorist, Khaled Sharrouf of his citizenship. Sharrouf became well known after photos of his son holding a severed head of a Syrian soldier began circulating on the internet.
The immigration minister told ABC AM that the five individuals, aged in their 20s and 30s, were involved with “serious terrorist-related activity.”
“Cessation of Australian citizenship for dual nationals involved in terrorism is a key part of Australia’s response to international violent extremism and terrorism,” Dutton said.
“The Government is determined to deal with foreign terrorist fighters as far from our shores as possible to ensure that if they do return it is with forewarning and into the hands of authorities.”
Dutton told the radio station it is expected that more people could have their Australian citizenship cancelled but didn’t specify details.
“The determination of the Government is to try and keep Australia as safe as possible and we do that by keeping these people far from our shores so if we can deal with foreign fighters away from our shores we do that,” he told the radio station.
“If people are coming back here armed with all that knowledge it does provide a significant security risk to Australian citizens so we are very keen to neutralise that wherever we can.”