Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he's “not happy” that a suspected 19-year old jihadist managed to slip through airport security on his brother’s passport and fly to the Middle East, before he was picked up in the UAE.
The teenager, 19-year old Ahmad Saiyer Naizmand from Sydney, managed to board a flight for the United Arab Emirates, where he was picked up on arrival and deported.
Abbot said the 19-year old “did arouse concerns” when he went through immigration, which is why Australian officials alerted people in the UAE.
“While this person did get out of Australia, he wasn’t able to make his way to the ISIL battle front, so that’s a little bit better than the previous occasion,” Abbott told reporters.
He was referring to a case last December when a convicted terrorist, Khaled Sharrouf, 33, used his brother Mostafa’s passport to leave Australia to fight with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which used to be known as ISIL, despite the fact that the Australian government had banned him from leaving the country because of the threat he posed.
The Islamic State (IS) is now conducting a campaign of religious cleansing and genocide in northern Iraq and Syria, which has prompted the US and its European allies to lead a campaign to try and arm the Kurds who are on the ground fighting IS militants in Iraq.
Sharrouf has since disgusted the world with a picture he posted on twitter of his seven year old son holding the severed head of a Syrian soldier.
US Secretary of State John Kerry described the picture as “one of the most disturbing, stomach-turning, grotesque photographs ever displayed.”
Sharrouf was among nine Muslim men accused in 2007 of plotting terrorist attacks and stockpiling bomb making materials. He was sentenced to four years in prison in 2009.
Another suspected jihadist was sentenced in a Sydney court on Wednesday and was charged with using a passport that wasn’t issued to him, although the Australian authorities did not say if the man had been on a terrorist watch list.
The Australian government is planning to increase spending on border protection, law enforcement and intelligence over the next four years.
“We are investing some $630 million over the next four years in strengthening our security services, and an important element of that will be biometric screening at airports so that this kind of identity issue can be dealt with much more effectively,” said Abbot.
But Labor leader Bill Shorten said he was “astounded” by the incident and wanted to know why Sharrouf had managed to slip past authorities.
“Now we’re getting disturbing reports that other jihadists are escaping under the noses of our authorities,” he told reporters in Melbourne.