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Australia strips dual national IS fighter of citizenship

A Lebanese-Australian IS fighter has become the first person to be stripped of his dual citizenship under Australia's 2015 anti-terror law. About half of all Australian IS members are believed to be dual citizens.

"Islamic State" (IS) fighter Khaled Sharrouf has been stripped of his Australian citizenship, the "Weekend Australian" newspaper reported on Saturday. He is the first person to have his dual citizenship revoked under a law introduced by Canberra in 2015.

Sharrouf, the son of Lebanese immigrants, left Australia for Syria in late 2013 in order to join the jihadist group and became known for his involvement in the beheadings of government officials. In 2014, photos emerged online of the 35-year-old and his then 7-year-old son holding the severed heads of Syrian soldiers.

According to the "Weekend Australian," Immigration Minister Peter Dutton declared Sharrouf's citizenship invalid earlier this year at the recommendation of the Citizenship Loss Board, a secret panel of intelligence officers, police, bureaucrats and lawyers. 

More than 100 fighters

The Australian Immigration Department confirmed only that an individual involved in terrorism overseas had been stripped of citizenship, but did not reveal any further information about the person.

In 2015, Australia passed an anti-terror law that allows the country to cancel people's citizenship if they are dual nationals and if they are involved with a terrorist group. The government says the policy is meant to protect the country from homegrown militants returning from fighting for IS or other terror groups. It does not apply to individuals who have only Australian citizenship, as no one can be made stateless under the law.

More than 100 Australians are currently fighting for IS. About half of them are estimated to have dual citizenship.

mb/tj (dpa, Reuters)