An estimated 150 to 300 Australian citizens are fighting for ISIS in Iraq and Syria, making the Aussies the highest foreign per-capita contributors to the militant Islamist group.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said of the increase in radicalized jihadis leaving his country for the Middle East to join ISIS’s ranks:
The best thing we can do for Australians at home is to ensure that jihadis do not come back to this country. We will do everything we humanly can to stop jihadist terrorists coming into this country, and if they do return to this country, we will do everything we reasonably can to ensure that they are not moving amongst the Australian community. We will ensure we stop the jihadists as well because the last thing we want is people who have been radicalised and militarised by experience with these Al Qaeda offshoots in the Middle East returning to create mischief here in Australia.
The Australian Foreign Affairs Minister said Monday, “The Government is gravely concerned by the fact that Australian citizens are heading to Iraq and Syria not only to fight but to take leadership roles in radicalizing others in these conflicts.”
Two Australian citizens recently released an English-language video titled “There Is No Life Without Jihad.” The video shows the Australian nationals urging their fellow Muslims to come join ISIS and help them pursue the goal of establishing a worldwide Islamic Caliphate.
Kurdish authorities told the Washington Post that around 150 Kurdish youth have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The Kurds had hoped to not pick sides in the ongoing sectarian violence between Sunni-supported ISIS and the Shiite Maliki government in Iraq. Kurds are Sunni Muslims but have a distinct language and culture that creates a unique identity.
A Kurdish official said ISIS has already begun opening terror cells inside the Kurdish-dominated town of Halabja with the goal of reaching out to disenfranchised Kurdish young men. “How do we guarantee that when they’re done fighting the Shiites, they don’t start waging war against the Kurds?” said the official. He continued, “People here are graduating from high school, and they think they have no future. People here join ISIS – which is also basically suicide.”