Police have arrested five men on the suspicion of leaving Australia and join the Islamic State in Syria. They were aged 21 to 33 and was seen towing a boat with a car 2,800 km (1,700 miles) from their homes. The boat was supposedly bought just to make the trip. Their passports were canceled and the only way to leave the country was by sea. The men had been under police investigations for several weeks before action were taken.
Shane Patton, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner, states the men were planning to travel to Indonesia then to the Philippines but with no specific plan on how they were planning to get to Syria from the Philippines. He said “This is a serious attempt by five men who are security interest to us who have had their passports canceled in attempting to exit Australia … and then ultimately we’re investigating the intention to possibly end up in Syria to fight.”
“We can’t allow Australians to leave Australia and support terrorism anywhere,” he added. Patton believes if they managed to make it to Syria, they will return to Australia as a greater threat.
Authorities confirmed “At this stage, they do not relate to offenses concerning the planning of a terrorist attack in Australia.”
This is the latest escalation on terror-related arrest in Australia. Last month, a 16-year-old boy in Sydney was arrested as suspicion to plotting a terror attack on an Anzac Day ceremony and five young men were arrested in Melbourne ahead of 2015’s Anzac ceremony a year ago.
Australia’s security officials estimates at least 110 Australians are in the Islamic State fighting in the Middle East.