Australia sets up counter-terrorism units at two major international airports

27 August 2014 (Last Updated August 27th, 2014 18:30)

The Australian Government has set up two counter-terrorism units at Sydney and Melbourne Airports, following concerns over national citizens fighting in Iraq and Syria.

The Australian Government has set up two counter-terrorism units at Sydney and Melbourne Airports, following concerns over national citizens fighting in Iraq and Syria.

Prime minister Tony Abbott said operations have already started at both the airports, with the authorities intercepting one person of interest.

The government has taken this step in an attempt to crack down on Australian Muslims, who are suspected of joining extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.

"A total of 80 officers will be stationed at other airports across the country to monitor the movements of people on Australia's national security watchlists."

Abbott added that a total of 80 officers will be stationed at other airports across the country to monitor the movements of people on Australia's national security watchlists.

The government will also soon introduce biometric screening systems at the country's international airports.

The prime minister also added that at least 60 Australians were believed to be fighting with jihadist groups in Syria and northern Iraq.

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) outgoing head David Irvine said that approximately 15 Australians, including two suicide bombers, were believed to have been killed in conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

He further stated that more than 100 people were actively supporting militant groups by recruiting new fighters, training suicide-bombers and providing funds and equipment.

With the aim of curbing terrorist activities, Australia recently signed an agreement with the US to share information that would confirm identities of foreign travellers at airports.

The country will also be spending approximately $587m over the next four years to tackle the threat of home-grown terrorism. The government made an announcement this week that it would spend $74m to help prevent young people from becoming radicalised.