Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has signaled a tightening of border controls in a bid to confront terror threats looming over the island country.
“We are a free and fair nation. But that doesn’t mean we should let bad people play us for mugs, and all too often they have. Well, that’s going to stop,” Abbott said in a statement released on Sunday.
Australia has long provided those who might be considered as a threat to the country “the benefit of the doubt,” the Australian premier noted.
The remarks came less than a week after Australian counter-terrorism police detained two men associated with the ISIL Takfiri militant group on suspicion of planning to carry out a terror attack.
The two were arrested during a raid on a house in the western Sydney suburb of Fairfield. A machete, a hunting knife and a homemade ISIL flag, as well as a video of a man talking about an attack were found in the suspects’ hideout.
In September last year, Australia raised its national terror threat level to “high” for the first time, when hundreds of police conducted raids following reports suggesting that the ISIL terrorists planned to carry out a public beheading.
On December 15, a gunman claiming to represent the ISIL terrorist group took 18 people hostage in a 16-hour siege at a Sydney café. Two hostages died during the standoff and the gunman was shot dead by police.
The gunman, Haron Monis, also known as Mohammad Hassan Manteqi, was an Iranian who had escaped to Australia 18 years ago. Tehran had in 2000 asked Australia to extradite Monis on fraud charges, but Canberra failed to do so as there was no extradition treaty between the two countries.
The homecoming of the Australians who have joined Takfiri militants in Iraq and Syria has become a source of concern for the Australian government.
Canberra says almost 100 Australians are currently engaged in the conflict in Iraq and Syria, up from 70 last year. Canberra also believes that Australians fighting alongside ISIL terrorists are backed by at least 100 facilitators in the country.
The ISIL terrorists, who have taken control of several parts of Syria and Iraq, have been committing heinous crimes in the captured areas, including mass executions of civilians and security forces.
Australia is a member of the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the ISIL Takfiri group in Iraq.
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