Two teenage boys were stopped by Aussie authorities while they were allegedly attempting to fly out of Sydney Airport and join the Islamic State’s (ISIS) jihad in Syria and Iraq.
Australian Federal Police said the two boys, ages 16 and 17, were held in custody over the weekend and are being charged with “attempting to prepare for incursions into foreign countries for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities,” ABC News Australia reports.
Officials added that the Sydney jihadis were “subsequently unarrested and released into their parents’ custody” and left the media with no further information because the investigation is ongoing.
The boys’ luggage reportedly contained “extremist paraphernalia and a “letter on how to fabricate a cover story to authorities when leaving the countries,” a source told ABC.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott praised the Sydney officers for catching the jihadi recruit suspects before they could make their way abroad.
“We know that there are other people who might be tempted to do silly things, and these are two youngsters who … suddenly got it into their head to go and do something that is very dangerous for them and potentially very dangerous for others,” said Abbott.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton opined that the teens were simply too young to understand the magnitude of what they were getting themselves into by joining the Islamic State.
“These two young men, aged 16 and 17, are kids, not killers,” said Dutton. “They shouldn’t be allowed to go to a foreign land to fight and to come back to our shores eventually more radicalized,” he added.
“In some cases, these young people who are going off to fight in areas like Syria will be killed themselves, and that’s a tragedy for their families, for their communities, and for our country. We have to be absolutely determined to stare down this ever increasing threat,” Dutton concluded.
The report states that the teenagers were planning on flying to Turkey, where they would enter Syria through its porous border. “Turkey of course is the bordering country for Syria and it’s the usual jumping off point for foreign fighters going to Syria to join Islamic State,” terrorism Professor Clive Williams of Macquarie University explained to ABC.