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Suspected terrorism financing triples in Australia

Cases flagged for suspected terrorism financing have tripled, according to Australia's financial intelligence agency Austrac. More than $35 million, including $11 million in cash, have been flagged by the agency.

Australia's anti-money laundering agency reported on Wednesday that suspected "terrorism financing" tripled from 2014 to 2015.

The Australian financial intelligence agency Austrac said in its annual report that it recorded up to 367 cases, up from 118 a year earlier.

The total amount of cases, including those flagged by partner enterprises, such as banks, rose to 536.

"The volume of terrorism financing in Australia is linked to the number of Australians traveling to join terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq," Austrac said in its report.

At least $38.2 million (34.9 million euros) have been flagged on cause of suspicion, including $7.9 million in cash.

However, the report said that while the funds are suspected of being used for individual attacks and operations, it also sustains "the less violent or obvious aspects of a group's operations."

Austrac said this could include "living expenses, travel, training, propaganda activities and compensation for wounded fighters or the families of terrorists who have died."

Canberra believes several Australians hold leadership positions within the Islamic State militant group

Canberra believes several Australians hold leadership positions within the "Islamic State" militant group

'Cutting off the funds'

"We have been monitoring more than 100 people of interest and keeping our partner agencies informed about their financial activities," the report added.

The Australian government boosted Austrac's budget last year in a bid to increase the agency's ability to monitor and track terrorism financing originating in the Oceanic country.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan also announced Wednesday that Australia and Indonesia will co-host the first counter-terrorism financing summit in the Asia-Pacific region in mid-November.

"Cutting off the funds at the source can make a significant difference to national security here in Australia, in our region and beyond," Keenan said.

The announcement comes as Australia seeks to thwart home-grown militant activity.

ls/kms (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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