Australia PM Tony Abbott urges regional action against IS


Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has urged Asia Pacific nations to fight jihadist groups, saying Islamic State (IS) has global ambitions.

At a conference in Sydney on countering terrorist propaganda, he said IS was a death cult with far-reaching tentacles.

Australia says more than 100 of its citizens are fighting with militant jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq.

Last year, Australia raised its threat level to high and has conducted a series of counter-terrorism raids.

The two-day regional security summit includes ministers from 25 countries, including Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Laos, Vietnam and New Zealand.

Representatives from Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are also attending.

“Daesh [IS] is coming, if it can, for every person and for every government with a simple message: ‘Submit or die’,'” Mr Abbott said in his opening remarks. “You can’t negotiate with an entity like this, you can only fight it.”

“This is not terrorism for a local grievance, this is terrorism with global ambitions.”

Mr Abbott said the main challenge was working out how to stop young people from joining jihadists groups, which he said would be the work of the conference.

“We need idealistic young people to appreciate that joining this death cult [IS] is an utterly misguided and wrong-headed way to express their desire to sacrifice,” he said.

How many from Asia have gone to fight with IS?

  • In September 2014 US military officials said about 1,000 recruits from the Asia Pacific region could have joined the militant group.
  • Last month, at a high-level security conference Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong said South East Asia was a key recruiting ground.
  • More than 500 young people from Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, are fighting for IS said Mr Lee, and dozens from Malaysia, so many that they have a unit called the Katibah Nusantara – Malay Archipelago Combat Unit.
  • Australia says about 100 of its citizens are thought to be part of IS in Syria or Iraq.

Amid concern about the domestic impact of jihadist groups, Australia has introduced new national security measures including criminalising travel to terror hotspots and giving extra funding to police and security agencies.

The government recently announced plans to table law to remove citizenship from dual nationals who support extremist groups.

Mr Abbotts remarks come after US President Barack Obama approved sending up to 450 more military personnel to Iraq to train forces fighting IS.