Government: 300 stopped from leaving Australia for conflict zones

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Counterterrorism authorities stopped more than 300 people including minors from leaving Australia bound for conflict areas in Iraq and Syria, the customs agency said in its annual report Thursday.

From July 2014-June 2015, Border Force counterterrorism teams conducted 133,368 on the spot assessments of people booked to fly from Australia’s eight international airports and prevented 336 passengers from leaving, the report said.

The annual report said authorities had intercepted “people of national security concern” and prevented “a number of minors from travelling to the conflict areas in Syria and Iraq.”

They include two boys ages 16 and 17 from an elite government school in Sydney reserved for the most gifted students, who were stopped in March from flying to Turkey.

It was reported that counterterrorism agencies concluded the two youths had become radicalized and were seeking to join extremist groups in Syria without their parents’ knowledge. They were not criminally charged and were released to their parents’ custody.

The government has revealed it cancelled 67 passports on security grounds during the same 12 months, up from 45 the year before. Another 20 passports were cancelled over the last three months.

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