The federal government has risked the lives of aid workers to bring the children of an ISIS fighter back to Australia while at the same time seeking to deport a popular Sri Lankan Tamil family who have been living in Queensland.
The surviving offspring of Sydney-born terrorist Khaled Sharrouf were this week rescued from Syria’s notorious al-Hawl refugee camp, six years after their dead father travelled to the Middle East to join ISIS.
The operation to evacuate a pregnant Zayneb, 18, her 17-year-old sister Hoda and their eight-year-old brother Humzeh to Australia is controversial, considering their dead brother Abdullah was just seven when he was photographed holding a severed head in 2014.
The federal government has risked the lives of aid workers to bring the children (left) of an ISIS fighter back to Australia while at the same time seeking to deport a popular Sri Lankan Tamil family who have been living in Queensland
The surviving offspring of Sydney-born terrorist Khaled Sharrouf were this week rescued from Syria’s notorious al-Hawl refugee camp, six years after their dead father travelled to the Middle East to join ISIS (pictured is Khaled Sharrouf with his sons Zaraqawi, Abdullah and the youngest Humzeh)
The operation to evacuate a pregnant Zayneb, 18, her 17-year-old sister Hoda and their eight-year-old brother to Australia is controversial, considering their deceased brother Abdullah was just seven when he was photographed holding a severed head in 2014
Only last month, Sri Lankan asylum seekers Priya and Nadesalingam lost their High Court bid to remain in Australia with their Australian-born children Kopika and Tharunicaa.
This occurred even though the small central Queensland town of Biloela, where they lived, had lobbied the government to keep them in Australia, gathering 200,000 signatures on a petition since last year.
Nadesalingam, a husband and father, worked at the local abattoir. His wife Priya had witnessed men in her village being burned to death and they fear their previous links to the separatist Tamil Tigers group could put their lives at risk.
The South Asian couple came to Australia separately by boat in 2012 and 2013, several years after Sri Lanka’s long-running civil war between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamils had ended.
They were arrested last year during a dawn raid at their house and have been detained in Melbourne for the past 15 months.
Tharunicaa, the couple’s youngest daughter who turned two last week, has severe tooth decay and needs surgery urgently so she can eat solids.
The possible deportation of the Sri Lankan family has fired up talkback radio, with a caller to 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones saying it was wrong as the children of a terrorist were being returned to Australia.
‘I’m sitting here, my stomach is in a knot, I’m fuming as to what this government is doing to this family when we’re talking about bringing … the children of terrorists back into this country and that’s okay but we can’t let these people stay,’ he said.
‘I’m lost for words.’
Jones agreed: ‘That is absolutely right.’
Angela Fredericks, a social worker friend of the Sri Lankan family, described how Australian Border Force officers had last year stormed their Biloela house in March last year.
Only last month, Sri Lankan asylum seekers Priya and Nadesalingam lost their High Court bid to remain in Australia with their Australian-born children Kopika and Tharunicaa (pictured are supporters in Melbourne)
This occurred even though the small central Queensland town of Biloela, where they lived, had lobbied the government to keep them in Australia, gathering 200,000 signatures on a petition since last year (pictured is a young supporter in Melbourne)
‘This is a family that threw themselves into our community. They want to be part of our culture,’ she told Sydney radio broadcaster Alan Jones on Thursday.
‘They stormed the house at 5am. An absurd number of Border Force guards took them all, gave them about 15 minutes to pack, put them in separate cars, separated them from the children.
‘What kills me is the girls weren’t allowed to sit with their mother for that flight, their very first flight. So you can just imagine the terror. It just sends chills in me.
‘I don’t know how they could do that to people.’
Ms Fredicks said the deportation had been delayed until the claims of young Tharunicaa could be heard.
Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said the family remained in detention and were continuing to have people lobby the government on their behalf, arguing Tamils still lived under military occupation even though the civil war ended in 2009.
‘They’ve been established as a family in Biloela and beyond that, there is still very real concern about what would happen if they were returned – that needs to be taken into consideration,’ he told Daily Mail Australia on Thursday.
The family had also won the hearts of Bioela.
‘You’ve got a whole town in rural Queensland that wants them to stay,’ Mr Rintoul said.
Earlier this year, their grandmother Karen Nettleton found her surviving grandchildren and great-grandchildren at the al-Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria, after several trips to the Middle East
Their situation could not be more different to the Sharouff children.
Earlier this year, their grandmother Karen Nettleton found her surviving grandchildren and great-grandchildren at the al-Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria, after several trips to the Middle East.
Ms Nettleton’s daughter Tara, who converted to Islam, is believed to have died in late 2015 from appendicitis complications at age 31.
Her terrorist husband Sharrouf is believed to have been killed by a drone or an airstrike, at some point between 2015 and 2017.
After having initial reservations about helping the Sharrouf children return to Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed they could be repatriated on the condition now Australians were injured doing so.
Earlier this week Zaynab, the eldest of the Sharrouf orphans, gave birth to her third child in Iraq, just two days after she and her two surviving siblings and her daughters were rescued from Syria.
Aid agencies angered ISIS sympathisers in the al-Hawl refugee camp as part of the operation.
The ISIS extremists threatened to burn Australian women and children alive after eight children were rescued from Syria.
The eight orphans were transported to Iraq on Sunday in a secret operation organised by the Australian government.
Daily Mail Australia has asked Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s office about the cost of the repatriation of the Sharrouf children.
Australians begging to come home after fighting with ISIS
Oliver Bridgeman, 21
Olive Bridgeman, 21, (pictured) claims he went to Syria to be a humanitarian worker.
- The 21-year-old from Toowoomba in Queensland’s Darling Downs claimed he travelled to Syria to be a humanitarian worker.
- He previously assured his mother and father he hadn’t been fighting in the war-torn nation, where ISIS terrorists are battling for control.
- His passport has been cancelled by the Australian government and he has been stuck in the war-torn area since 2016.
Mahir Absar Alam, 26,
Mahir Absar Alam, 26, (pictured), was caught just outside Baghouz.
- Alam joined Islamic State just four weeks after it declared its so-called caliphate in 2014.
- He has allegedly expressed regret for joining.
- The 26-year-old faces spending time in a prison camp in Syria, and could be taken to Iraq for trial or possibly be deported back to Australia, where he could be prosecuted.
Ahmed Merhi, 27
Ahmed Merhi, 27, (pictured) has begged Australia to help him escape.
- Sydney terrorist Ahmed Merhi has begged Australia to help him after he was sentenced to death by hanging in Iraq.
- The former Granville Boys High School student, from Sydney’s west, travelled to Syria in 2014 or 2015.
- At the time, he claimed he was travelling to the war-torn region to perform aid work.
Janai Safar, 24
Janai Safar, 24, (pictured), previously vowed never to return to Australia.
- Safar is living in a refugee camp in northern Syria after its defeat.
- She left Australia to allegedly join the jihadi terror group in 2015.
- She previously vowed she’d never return to Australia.
- ‘It was my decision to come here to go away from where women are naked on the street. I don’t want my son to be raised around that,’ she said.
Zehra Duman, 24,
Zehra Duman, 24, (pictured) hit headlines in Australia when she fled to Syria in 2014.
- Duman, from Melbourne, is believed to be held at the al-Hawl refugee camp in Syria with her two-year-old son and six-month-old daughter.
- She claims she has been trying to leave ISIS for two years.
- The 24-year-old said she knows Australians would be angry with her but insisted: ‘My kids have a right to be treated like normal kids.’
Khaled Sharrouf’s children: Zaynab, 17, Hoda, 16, and Humzeh, eight
Zaynab (top left), Hoda (top right), and Humzeh (bottom, middle) are in the al-Howl camp.
- The Australian terrorist’s remaining three children have been held at the al-Hawl refugee camp in north-eastern Syria since mid-march.
- Their Sydney-based mother, Tara Nettleton, smuggled the children out of Australia after her husband left to join the caliphate.
- Nettleton is believed to have died in 2016, while Sharrouf and his two eldest sons were believed to have been killed in an airstrike in 2017.