Family urge amnesty as anti-IS Australian arrives home

7th December 2015, Comments 0 comments

An Australian who joined Kurds battling the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria arrived back home Monday with his parents pleading with authorities not to charge him under foreign fighter laws, calling him "a hero".

Ashley Dyball, 23, was detained in Germany while taking a break from a Kurdish military campaign against IS in northern Syria and deported on Saturday night.

He touched down in Melbourne and was questioned by Federal Police officers for several hours before being allowed to travel on to Brisbane, where he is from.

His lawyer Jessie Smith told reporters in Melbourne he was "interviewed, released without charge pending further enquiry".

Police said any Australian identified as a threat to security would be fully investigated, without specifying whether charges would be laid.

"The public can rest assured that any Australian who is identified as a threat to security will be investigated by the relevant agencies," federal police said in a statement.

"The safety of the community is the main priority of all Australian government agencies involved in this matter.

"Australians have been consistently warned that by becoming involved in overseas conflict they are putting their own lives in mortal danger," it added.

Australian officials have been increasingly concerned about citizens travelling to Iraq and Syria to join extremist groups such as IS, with some 110 Australians currently fighting in the region. As many as 45 have died in the conflict.

Canberra has introduced new laws to combat the threat, with foreign incursions offences updated as part of new counter-terrorism laws introduced last year aimed at blocking jihadists going overseas to fight.

Under the laws, it is a crime to fight for militants on either side of the conflict.

Few have left to fight or work against IS, although Dyball is not the first.

Reece Harding, 23, died in June in Syria after stepping on a landmine while battling the militant group alongside Kurdish fighters.

Dyball's father Scott said his son was glad to be home, and criticised the foreign fighter laws.

"How can you have evil and good and say it's the same thing? It's not. It's not the same thing," he told national radio.

"And today it's not just for Ashley, but Harding... And they're heroes in our books. In everyone's books."

He appealed to the government to grant an amnesty to his son, who travelled to the frontline in May despite government warnings it was an offence to do so.

"The law was unclear at the time, if they were clear the boys would not have gone. All we are asking is just an amnesty," he said.

Speaking to Australian media from Syria earlier this year, Ashley Dyball said he was carrying out humanitarian work and clearing landmines.


© 2015 AFP

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