The largest single group of suspected jihadis to attempt to leave Australia for Syria and Iraq were stopped by counterterrorism authorities at Sydney international Airport on Aug. 12, The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported Thursday.
According to the BBC, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that it seemed that the seven Australians planned to fight with terror groups.
Mr Abbott also declined to give specifics of the reported operation but said it showed the continuing allure of the death cult.
The group of five men can be seen together in different parts of the airport and then being questioned at an immigration checkpoint.
“That follows a number of people who have been off-loaded by the counter-terrorism unit officers, in particular in Sydney and Melbourne, over a period of time”, he said.
Canberra estimates there are some 120 Australians still fighting in Iraq and Syria, while at least 30 have been killed.
All had their passports immediately suspended under new laws passed by the Abbott government allowing the Attorney-General’s Department and ASIO to recommend immediate suspension of passports.
Mr Dutton would not go into further detail.
“We are concerned about the number of people presenting at airports, particularly younger people, who might be seeking to travel overseas for reasons that would horrify Australians and their parents and family and community no doubt as well”, he said.
When pressed about the incident by a reporter, Mr Dutton indicated more details might be available later on Thursday.
Quoting an unnamed intelligence official, the paper said the young men, who were each carrying around $10,000 in cash, were intercepted as they tried to board an initial flight to Malaysia.
He praised the border force and counter-terrorism units at airports for doing their jobs in this “particularly important and significant way”.