|An Aussie kid's fun in the sun|
It seems that prime minister Tony Abbott is standing firm on this one, despite calls from certain "progressive voices" and of Australian imams for the repatriation of those who, having gone off to fight against the interests of the nation to which they owe allegiance, and whose ways they so obviously despise, now want to return here.
Here's the transcript of an ABC (Oz's equivalent of the BBC) radio broadcast I heard earlier today (emphasis added):
'ELEANOR HALL: The lawyer for an Australian man who wants to come home after joining Islamic State in Syria says the trained medic would be a valuable resource for authorities as they try to steer young Australians away from radical ideas.Here, by the way, is the Wikipedia entry on the National Imams' Council.
That view is backed by an Islamic group and criminologists.
But the Prime Minister has warned that foreign fighters face prosecution and jail if they return to Australia.
Simon Lauder reports.
SIMON LAUDER: The Australian Government says more than 30 Australians have been killed in fighting in Syria and Iraq for what the Government says is a terrorist cause.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is still trying to confirm reports that the latest is a Melbourne teenager who died while fighting for Islamic State.
Not everyone who joins the fight dies for it. Some, like this man who was interviewed by CBS in February, have seen enough and they want to come home.
ABU IBRAHIM: A lot of people when they come, they've a lot of enthusiasm about what they've seen online, what they've seen on YouTube.
They see it as something a lot grander than what the reality is. It's not all military praise or victories, you know.
SIMON LAUDER: The man in that interview was known as Abu Ibrahim.
ABU IBRAHIM: I know friends remained in the brotherhood, but ISIS itself, no.
SIMON LAUDER: He's believed to be one of a small number of Australians who are negotiating with authorities to be allowed to return home after fighting with Islamic State and having their travel documents cancelled.
Lawyer Rob Stary says he can't confirm it's the same man, but he's assisting a Victorian man who wants to return to Australia from Syria but has had his passport revoked.
ROB STARY: My client is a person who's trained as a medic, as a nurse.
SIMON LAUDER: Mr Stary says many weeks of negotiations with Australian Federal Police have stalled.
He wants them to consider that the man could be a valuable tool in any anti-radicalisation programs.
ROB STARY: Young men for instance here who've been radicalised, primarily through social media, governments really taking to them, or the authorities, with a sledgehammer, the opportunity to engage those people have largely been lost.
SIMON LAUDER: What assurances would you like from Australian authorities before this man should step back on Australian soil?
ROB STARY: I don't expect any assurances. What we would like though is the opportunity to have some dialogue about de-radicalisation and about how this person can be used to the benefit of the broader Australian community.
SIMON LAUDER: And obviously that would mitigate against any prosecution or penalty.
ROB STARY: Sure but we do that in every context, we do that in every other context of the criminal law.
We need to have some good faith shown by the authorities that they want to engage with our client.
So we do it in every other context of the criminal world.
SIMON LAUDER: Spokesman for the Australian National Imams Council, Sheikh Mohamadu Saleem, told ABC Local Radio in Melbourne Australian former Islamic State fighters should be allowed to face prosecution and reform themselves.
MOHAMADU NAWAS SALEEM: As long as there are not going to be a threat to the security of this country and they are prepared to participate in de-radicalisation programs.
SIMON LAUDER: But there's no sign of that being allowed, at least not from the Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
TONY ABBOTT: A crime is a crime is a crime is a crime, and if you go abroad to break Australian law, if you go abroad to kill innocent people in the name of misguided fundamentalism and extremism, if you go abroad to become an Islamist killer, well we're hardly going to welcome you back into this country.
Dr Clarke Jones from the Australian National University is an expert on radicalisation and terrorism.
He says Australian authorities should be making the most of returning fighters who are willing to change.
CLARKE JONES: The Government needs to be very careful in the narrative it uses and the Prime Minister, that sort of narrative from the very top of Australian Government will prevent people coming home and will prevent us using people that have had this sort of conflict experience in intervention programs and trying to help others or steer others away from joining the Islamic State.
SIMON LAUDER: Despite that, callers to ABC Local Radio this morning show support for the Prime Minister's view.
ABC RADIO CALLER: I'm really really furious about the possibility of letting these criminal back into the country.
I wouldn't be surprised if they come and recruit more teenagers and they're going to boast about the number of people they have killed.
Who is going to guarantee they are not going to pop up in my neighbourhood and try to recruit my children?
SIMON LAUDER: In a written statement, the Australian Federal Police says it's aware of a small number of Australians who've made approaches to return from the Syria-Iraq conflict zone.
The AFP won't be commenting further.'
What's not to love, eh?