Sydney,March 25: A third teenager has been caught attempting to flee Australia to join jihadi militants in the Middle East.
A 17-year-old boy was taken off a plane at Sydney airport on March 12 and interviewed by counter-terrorism officers, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton revealed on Wednesday.
It comes after two teenage brothers were also discovered doing the same thing earlier this month.
The boy is the third teenager government officials have intercepted among about 200 people stopped from heading overseas to become foreign fighters with terrorist groups.
He has since returned to his family, with the Australian Federal Police and ASIO investigating the matter.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said while it was hard to believe people who had grown up in Australia’s free and open society could be susceptible to brain washing by extremist groups such as Islamic State, it was clearly happening.
‘It is very dangerous for you. It is very dangerous for others,’ he told reporters in Canberra.
‘We will do everything we can to stop you if you do try.’
The two brothers who were stopped earlier this month were aged 16 and 17.
The siblings were south-west Sydney and were reportedly brought home by their mother after being detained.
Authorities’ suspicions were aroused after the two had booked flights to an unidentified country in the Middle East and their luggage was searched.
The two boys were stopped on the night of March 6, Mr Dutton said at the time of the revelation.
Their parents were unaware of their plans to travel to the Middle East. The brothers were later issued court attendance notices.
Under the new Foreign Fighters Act, customs officers are allowed to detain people where the officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that the person is intending to commit a Commonwealth offence or is a threat to national security or the security of a foreign country.
Sydney jihadists Mohamed Elomar, Khaled Sharrouf, and teenager Abdullah Elmir – dubbed the Ginger Jihadist – are so far the most high profile Australians to have travelled to the Middle East to fight with Islamic State.
Elmir, a former Condell Park High student, was filmed on the banks of the River Tigris in Iraq last October. While Elomar and Sharrouf have appeared regularly in Islamic State videos. One of which included a beheading of a prisoner.