Sydney mayors assured families of IS fighters will be resettled ‘where they came from’

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The mayors said they understood at least one of the relatives had been resettled in western Sydney.

Carbone believed that the minister “got on board … the real victims are the refugees, the people who actually fled ISIS”.

Home Secretary Clare O'Neil meets Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone (right), Campbelltown Mayor George Greiss (second from right) and Liverpool Mayor Ned Mannoun (fourth from right).

Home Secretary Clare O’Neil meets Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone (right), Campbelltown Mayor George Greiss (second from right) and Liverpool Mayor Ned Mannoun (fourth from right). Credit:Dean Lewins/AAP

Liverpool Mayor Ned Mannoun said the meeting had raised “a whole new set of questions”.

“What we have been told is that there are several Australian citizens who are being held by the Syrian regime for laws that have been broken in Syria,” he said. “Once they are released, the government cannot do anything to stop them from coming to Australia. It is quite important and causes a lot of concern.”

“There is no safety… [as to] whether they committed a crime because there is no evidence.”

O’Neil said the meeting, which was attended by Labor MP Chris Bowen and senior officials from ASIO and the Australian Federal Police, underlined the complexities the government faced in repatriating the relatives.

“We have considered it very carefully. We had been working on this case over a number of months.”

Bowen, whose federal electorate of McMahon covers parts of Fairfield, Penrith, Blacktown and Holroyd, said he was “completely kept in the dark” when the Coalition repatriated family members of IS fighters in 2019.

O’Neil said no decisions had been made to repatriate more family members than had already been returned.

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“The Australian Government has a choice. We can bring these people back to Australia in a managed way where we can ensure the community is kept safe.

“Or we could see these people come back after a bunch of Australian kids have grown up in a camp where they are exposed every day to radical ideologies that tell them to hate their country. It is not in the best interest of our country.”

Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Karen Andrews said O’Neil’s visit created “confusion rather than clarity” and called on her to be transparent about security costs associated with the scheme.

“If surveillance costs will be managed without additional funding, what programs managed by the AFP and ASIO will be dumped?” she said.

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Cumberland councilor Steve Christou, whose local government area covers Granville, Greystanes and Wentworthville, said the council had been excluded from the meeting with neighboring councils.

“To be rejected and ignored like we were is nothing but a slap in the face to the 240,000 residents who live in Cumberland,” he said.

The four women and 13 children arrived in Sydney from the Roj refugee camp in northern Syria on 29 October. They were the first Australians to be rescued from Syria since the collapse of the Islamic State group in 2019.

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