Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned a regional counter terrorism summit that Islamic State terrorists are coming with a “simple message, submit or die.”
Speaking in the New South Wales state capital Sydney, he said: “Daesh [IS] is coming, if it can, for every person and for every government with a simple message: ‘Submit or die’. You can’t negotiate with an entity like this, you can only fight it.
“This is not terrorism for a local grievance, this is terrorism with global ambitions.”
ABC News reports the two-day meeting includes ministers from 25 countries, including Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Laos, Vietnam, France, US and New Zealand.
Mr Abbott said the main challenge was working out how to stop young people from joining jihadist terror groups, which he said would be the work of the conference.
“We need idealistic young people to appreciate that joining this death cult [IS] is an utterly misguided and wrong-headed way to express their desire to sacrifice,” he said.
Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia agreed. He said his country is working to de-radicalise returning foreign fighters, but has warned that the threat is rapidly rising. The world’s most populous Muslim nation is wrestling, like Australia, with how to deal with hundreds of citizens who have travelled to the Middle East to join Islamic State.
The comments from Nadjib Riphat Kesoema included his view that the conference was not only vital for the region and “not only important for Indonesia or Australia”.
“We have to talk with our neighbouring countries about this and we have to find solutions,” he told AAP. Mr Kesoema said the threat from Islamic State was “becoming more and more of a concern in Indonesia”.
“We try to do our best,” he said. “We try to de-radicalise those people who are coming back.”
Amid concern about the domestic impact of jihadist groups, Australia has introduced new national security measures including criminalising travel to terror hotspots and giving extra funding to police and security agencies.
The Australian government recently announced plans to table laws to remove citizenship from dual nationals who support extremist groups.
Mr Abbott’s remarks come after US President Barack Obama approved sending up to 450 more military personnel to Iraq to train forces fighting IS.
Australia currently has around 530 troops in Iraq.
Around 200 of them are special forces from 2 Commando Regiment, while the remainder are regular troops stationed at Taji, north of Baghdad. Together with 140 New Zealand soldiers, their role is a “behind the wire” on-base mission to train Iraqi army units.
The special forces are due to return to Australia in coming months, while the training mission is a two-year commitment which the Prime Minister promised to review after 12 months.
Australia joined the international effort to defeat IS militants last September.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is also involved, with six F/A18 fighter jets, a surveillance aircraft, a refueller, and 400 military support staff based in the United Arab Emirates.
Mr Abbott has not ruled out reinforcing those troops and air assets.
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