The Courier-Mail

Returning jihadists may evade charges

- EXCLUSIVE STEVEN SCOTT

JIHADISTS could return to Australia from the Middle East and escape prosecutio­n because it is too difficult to use foreign evidence to prove terrorism offences, AttorneyGe­neral George Brandis has warned.

This is despite a dramatic slump in the number of Australian terrorists returning home from the Middle East in the past year in what the Government says is proof its crackdown on foreign fighters is working.

About 30 Australian foreign fighters had returned home just over a year ago when ISIS declared a caliphate across Iraq and Syria but the number of returnees has since fallen to single figures, The CourierMai­l can reveal.

A further round of counterint­elligence laws aimed at making it easier to prosecute terrorist offences and track jihadists who return to Australia is being drawn up by the Government and will be released within weeks.

“The rules of evidence are not always adequate,” Senator Brandis said.

“In assembling a prosecutio­n brief, particular­ly in relation to activities that occur overseas, it is often by no means easy to put material in a digestible form before a court.

“It is folly to think that the moment the agencies discover that a terrorist event is in preparatio­n they can immediatel­y arrest and prosecute.”

Security agencies fear it will be difficult to secure prosecutio­ns for people such as Muslim covert Adam Brookman, who was charged with terrorism offences after returning from Syria in July.

The new laws will make it easier for evidence obtained overseas to be used to prove terrorism offences in Australia.

Control orders will also be enhanced as part of the reforms to allow federal police and other security agencies to limit the movements of terrorist suspects who cannot be prosecuted.

Intelligen­ce agencies believe the number of Australian foreign fighters has now plateaued at about 120.

At least 32 Australian­s are now believed to have been killed while fighting for ISIS.

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