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Terror-group recruits may lose citizenship

Updated: 2015-05-25 07:29
By Agence France-Presse in Sydney (China Daily)

Australia is set to introduce new counterterrorism laws, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Sunday, with the package expected to include stripping dual nationals who are linked to terrorism of their citizenship.

There has also been speculation that the plan to amend citizenship laws, disclosed in February, could affect second-generation Australians who carry only one passport.

At the same time, the government is considering introducing a "jihadi watch" program in schools, which would keep tabs on pupils whose behavior suggests they might have been radicalized, it was announced Sunday.

"It's long been the case that if you have served with the armed forces of a country at war with Australia, you automatically lose your citizenship," Abbott told reporters.

"People who are fighting with terrorist groups overseas or who are engaged in terrorist activities here in Australia are effectively taking up arms against us. And it's very hard to imagine that we should allow to remain in the bosom of our country people who are trying to destroy us."

Australia raised its threat level to high last September and has since carried out a series of counterterrorism raids, with several alleged plots foiled this year.

Canberra has also taken a tough stance against radicalized citizens amid alarm at the departure of more than 100 of its nationals to Iraq and Syria to fight alongside jihadists, including the Islamic State group.

Abbott ruled out on Tuesday any leniency for returning jihadists following reports that three citizens suspected of fighting with IS were negotiating with the government to come home.

On Monday an inquest resumes into a Sydney cafe siege in December in which two hostages and the gunman, Iranian-born self-styled cleric Man Haron Monis, died.

The prime minister would not comment on a media report that his government was also exploring the possibility of stripping second-generation Australians of their citizenships if they are linked to terrorist activity. He said only that further details of the legislative changes will be released in a few days.

The possible measures, which were raised in The Australian newspaper, would force such nationals to take on citizenship of their parents' birth countries.

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