International media reports that five people have been stripped of their Australian citizenship for fighting alongside the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, with officials saying Thursday the country was a better place without them.
They join notorious Islamic State fighter Khaled Sharrouf — who made headlines when he posted a Twitter image of his young son holding a severed head — as the only nationals to be kicked out under tougher anti-terror laws.
“I can confirm that five more individuals have ceased to be Australian citizens because of their involvement with Islamic State offshore,” home affairs minister Peter Dutton said in a statement.
“Fundamentally, citizenship requires allegiance to this country… these five dual-nationals have been acting against Australia’s interests by engaging with terrorism and have effectively chosen to leave the Australian community.”
While Dutton did not identify the five, the Daily Telegraph newspaper in Sydney said they were three men and two women who had flown to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic State group fighters.
Australia Broadcasting Corp. said they were aged in their 20s and 30s and might not be aware that they were no longer Australian. Intelligence agencies began investigating them last year, the ABC said.
The first person to lose Australian citizenship under the law was Sydney-born convicted terrorist Khaled Sharrouf. Sharrouf, 36, slipped out of Australia in 2013 on his brother’s passport because his own had been canceled because of his conviction for his part in a thwarted terrorist attack plot. He was left with Lebanese citizenship after his Australian citizenship was canceled in January last year.
His Australian wife Tara Nettleton, who went with him, has since died and Sharrouf was believed to have been killed in a drone strike in Iraq in 2015.
Later media reports cast doubt on whether he was dead. The fate of their five children remains unknown.
Sharrouf sparked international revulsion in 2014 when he posted pictures on social media of his young son Abdullah holding the rotting severed head of a soldier.