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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1632

Iraq and Syria


Dr SOUTHCOTT (Boothby) (14:35): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer the minister to the atrocities being committed by the Daesh death cult in Iraq, including mass executions and the destruction of ancient cultural artefacts. Will the minister update the House on what the government is doing to prevent Australians travelling to Iraq?


Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:36): I thank the member for Boothby and note his concern about this issue. The government are committed to doing all we can to prevent Australians from providing any support at all for Daesh's barbaric and destructive acts. Today, under provisions in our new foreign fighters legislation, I have declared Mosul district in Iraq an area where a listed terrorist organisation engaging in hostile activity has replaced the legitimate government and is effectively in control. Mosul has strategic and symbolic significance to Daesh. This city is the largest controlled by Daesh in Iraq. It has about 700,000 people. It plays a key role as a location for foreign terrorist fighters to form networks and to train.

It is now an offence under Australian law for any Australian to enter or remain in Mosul or district without a legitimate purpose. Anyone who does so faces a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment. Since taking control of Mosul last year, Daesh has directed its terrorist activities from this district. It has used terrorist attacks extensively against civilians, carrying out mass executions and beheadings. Recent atrocities include: the crucifixion of 17 young men; the death of a woman by stoning; the public execution of 13 teenage boys whose crime, allegedly, was watching an Asian Cup soccer match. These madmen are seeking to take the world back to the dark ages.

Adding to the carnage, footage was released last week of Daesh fighters destroying ancient artefacts in Mosul. These thugs were using sledgehammers to wantonly destroy priceless cultural heritage items dating back thousands of years. It was reminiscent of the Taliban's destruction of ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan in 2001, eerily in that period leading up to the attacks on the World Trade Centre.

These utterly uncivilised acts are being universally condemned. The United Nations has called for urgent action by the Security Council, as this type of cultural destruction only further fuels extremism and promotes further conflict in Iraq.

My listing, today, of a no-go zone in Iraq, in addition to the listing of Ar-Raqqah in Syria, last December, will help our law enforcement agencies bring to justice those who have committed serious terrorist offences. This includes associating with and fighting for terrorist organisations, which is adding to the death and destruction in Syria and Iraq, and risking the lives of the Australians who are going there.

Our declaration of Mosul as a terrorist no-go zone is another significant step in combating Daesh to starve it of foreign fighters. We will do what we can to keep our people safe.