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Sydney mayor relieved after meeting with ISIS


The wives and children of Islamic State fighters do not necessarily all end up in western Sydney, but the government will not reveal the exact location, citing national security concerns.

Home Secretary Claire O’Neill met with three western Sydney mayors on Friday and expressed concern that their areas were being treated as “dumping grounds” for former ISIS affiliates.

While details are scarce due to national security concerns, O’Neill said there was “a lot of misinformation” about where members of the group were being resettled.

“People are coming back to where they left off,” O’Neill told reporters on Friday.

“We have considered this very carefully. We have been working on this issue for months.”

Cabinet colleague Chris Bowen, whose federal voters in McMahon cover some of the mayor’s local government areas, defended the government’s actions.

He said he only learned this year that a similar resettlement had taken place in 2019 under Scott Morrison’s Free Peoples government.

“I was completely in the dark. The mayors were in complete secrecy. The community didn’t know,” Bowen said.

Liverpool Mayor Ned Manoun, Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone and Campbeltown Mayor George Grace received a security briefing on returnees on Friday from Mr O’Neill and ASIO agents.

“It was definitely an open and candid discussion,” said Cr Carbone.

“I hope they are learning a lot … about the concerns we have in the region.

“The minister understood that the real victims were refugees, those who had actually fled ISIS.”

The federal government last month repatriated four Australian women and 13 children who had been stranded in Al Roy refugee camp in Syria since the defeat of ISIS.

Cr Carbone said no one was resettled in Fairfield.

“After this discussion, it is clear that West Sydney will not be used as a garbage dump,” he added.

“If (the returnee’s) family is in Melbourne, they will be repatriated to Melbourne. They will be repatriated to Perth and Queensland (if they traveled from there).”

Friday’s talks came after the mayor told Prime Minister Anthony Albanese that there were community concerns about the returnees.

Their resettlement has raised concerns that refugee communities in the region, including Yazidis and Assyrians targeted by ISIS, may be re-traumatized.

Cr Mannoun said many recently arrived refugees from Iraq and Syria fled ISIS militias.

“We don’t put victims of crime next to or side with perpetrators,” Cr Mannoun told AAP ahead of the conference.

Labor Secretary Jason Clare echoed Bowen’s remarks, saying the previous coalition had repatriated people from the camps to Blacksland constituency, also west of Sydney.

Earlier this week, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reese Kershaw confirmed that an investigation was underway into whether his returning wife had violated laws relating to travel to war zones, including Syria.

The women were cooperating with the police, he said.

ISIS was expelled in 2019 from the last territory it held straddling Syria and Iraq. At its peak in 2014, the group controlled most of both countries.

The violent movement has attracted thousands of foreign fighters, including Australian citizens, about 50 of whom have been killed in conflicts in Syria and Iraq.


https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/crime-news/2022/11/25/sydney-mayors-oppose-is-wives-resettlement/ Sydney mayor relieved after meeting with ISIS

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