House debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Matters of Public Importance

National Security

3:46 pm

Photo of Phillip ThompsonPhillip Thompson (Herbert, Liberal National Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence) Share this | Hansard source

I'd like to thank all the members who have contributed today, and I look forward to meeting with the Minister for Home Affairs. I do welcome that invite. There are concerns that I have, and there are some that have been raised with me by intelligence members who have worked in the region, as well as soldiers who have fought against terrorism, whether it be the Taliban or ISIS. These will be concerns that I will be able to raise directly with the minister in the coming days, because low risk doesn't mean no risk.

For me, this MPI goes to questions that I have, that the member for Fowler, the former deputy mayor, has and more to answers that we can then give to the people that are contacting me and other members of this place. I concur with the previous speaker in saying that no-one wants to see children in detention. No-one wants to see children, especially in a country like Syria, in a camp. Save the Children released a statement which said: 'An estimated 7,300 children live in camps under the guardianship of their ISIS-affiliated mothers who are diligently indoctrinating them with ISIS ideology and instilling in them the desire to avenge their fathers who were killed or taken prisoner in battles.' I agree with the previous speaker: we don't want to have young people, children, in camps and being indoctrinated.

Other countries, like the United States, France and Canada, have repatriated people, whether it's from Roj or the other detention centre there. France has repatriated 40 children and 15 women from the Kurdish-run camps in Syria, which were holding family members of suspected ISIS armed group fighters, according to the French foreign ministry. The 15 children were taken into child services, while the women were transferred to judicial authorities. We've also seen that Canada arrested two women as they returned home from the camp. They are accused of four crimes, including leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group. So Canada has taken a different avenue to what Australia has taken. I do think that there are concerns that need to be addressed, because, if we've got security professionals and intelligence professionals with questions, that means the general public will also have them.

There have been full-female brigades fighting for ISIS. That's well documented. There was a Kansas woman, in the United States, who pled guilty to one count of conspiring to provide support to ISIS. She told the judge that she didn't know that some of the 100 women she led and trained to use weapons and explosives were children, some as young as 10. During her decade of working with ISIS and others to wage violent war, she travelled from Libya to Egypt and eventually to Syria, and she had plans for a terrorist attack in the US. She trained other women in ISIS on how to use AK-47s, grenades and suicide belts, according to her plea agreement. No-one wants to see that here, and I have extreme faith in our intelligence agencies and in the government to really dive in to ensure that it doesn't. But what follows that? Is there any surveillance? Are there any report lines? Are there any checks and balances put in place to ensure that there isn't someone like this person from Kansas who trained others or that the people who are here haven't done something similar?

These are questions that I think need to be answered, and I'd like to work collaboratively with the minister on that. If I can use my network and the people that have been contacting me to dissuade any of the thoughts or suggestions that these people could have been in the same brigades, then I think it's a good thing, because we don't want to see fear and angst in the community.


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