Morrison Says Considering the Return of ISIS Fighters Orphaned Children to Australia

April 16, 2019 Updated: April 16, 2019

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he considering allowing the orphaned children of ISIS terrorist Khaled Sharrouf back to Australia, although national security remains the number one priority.

Sharrouf’s three children are at a refugee camp in Syria and have been reunited with their grandmother Karen Nettleton, who has been negotiating with officials to bring the youngsters home.

Morrison says the government has been working with the Red Cross and is taking each case of surviving children of ISIS fighters on their merits.

“Australia’s international security always comes first, but I’m very mindful we’re dealing with children here,” he told radio 5AA on April 16. “I’m not getting drawn into any final decisions here, we take this process one step at a time.”

The children—Zaynab, 17, Hoda, 16, and Humzeh, 8—were taken to Syria by their parents who have since died.

Zaynab now has two toddler daughters and is heavily pregnant.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says there is no reason the orphans should not be brought back to Australia and should not be held responsible for being dragged into a war zone.

Shorten said the children should not be held responsible for being dragged into a war zone.

“Their parents took them to a war zone, incredibly irresponsibly,” he told reporters in Adelaide. “Their parents took them into a regime of terrorism. These children shouldn’t be held responsible for what their parents did.”

Sharrouf was killed in an air strike in September 2017, along with his two older sons, Abdullah, 12, and Zarqawi, 11.

The children’s mother, Nettleton’s daughter Tara, died of medical complications in 2015.

Nettleton had not seen her grandchildren since 2014 but was reunited with them at the al-Hawl camp in northern Syria where those fleeing ISIS’s last enclave at Baghouz ended up.

Zaynab said she and her siblings had no choice about being taken into the war zone.

“We weren’t the ones that chose to come here in the first place,” she told the ABC’s Four Corners program.

“I mean, we were brought here by our parents. And now that our parents are gone, we want to live. And for me and my children, I want to live a normal life just like anyone would want to live a normal life.”

Her sister Hoda, who was 11 when she was taken out of Australia, told Four Corners: “I didn’t know I was in Syria until after we crossed the borders and I heard people speaking Arabic.

“I asked my mum where we were. And she told me we were in Syria. I started crying.”

By Daniel McCulloch