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Australian Prime Minister Announces Tough New Citizenship Laws to Fight Terrorism

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced plans to tighten citizenship laws to tackle home-grown extremism. Mr Abbott said that dual nationals could have their Australian citizenship suspended or even permanently revoked if they are found to be involved in terrorism.

Citizens born in Australia could also lose certain privileges if they break anti-terror laws, such as restricting their ability to leave the country, access consular services and receive state benefits.

In a speech at the federal police headquarters in Canberra, Mr Abbott said: “It has long been the case that people who fight against Australia forfeit their citizenship. So Australians who take up arms with terrorist groups, especially while Australian military personnel are engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, have sided against our country. And should be treated accordingly.”

Reuters reports that Mr Abbott also said that many Australians currently fighting with Islamic State were receiving state handouts, adding that these payments to “individuals assessed to be a threat to security” will soon be cancelled.

Australian officials have warned that the country faces a significant threat from jihadists returning home after fighting for Islamic State and other terror groups. Dozens of Australians are believed to currently be in Iraq and Syria.

Authorities have cancelled 100 passports belonging to suspected jihadists since 2010, however if they are Australian citizens, they still have full right to return to the country.

Mr Abbott also announced plans to target hate preachers. “Organisations and individuals blatantly spreading discord and division – such as Hizb ut-Tahrir – should not do so with impunity,” he said, adding that he would appoint a new “security tsar” to deal with the issue.

The speech came a day after a report into December’s Sydney café siege was published. Islamist Han Haron Monis seized control of the Lindt café, with two hostages dying in the subsequent stand-off.

Although the report found no direct links between Monis, who was killed when police broke the siege, and Islamic State, he did request a black Islamic flag similar to those flown by the group.

The country’s security hotline had received 18 calls about the gunman just before the siege, although none suggested he was about to carry out the attack.

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