Terrorist stripped of Aussie citizenship
A convicted terrorist has been stripped of his citizenship ahead of his release from Victorian prison.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton confirmed Algerian-born Abdul Nacer Benbrika, spiritual leader of a Australia's largest terror network, had his Australian passport cancelled on November 20.
Benbrika was sentenced to a minimum of 12 years' jail in 2008 for his role in plots targeting Sydney and Melbourne.
Mr Dutton said the Commonwealth deemed Benbrika posed a serious, ongoing risk to the public.
"This is a very serious conviction and the penalties highlight that. We believe it is appropriate in this circumstance to take the action that we have," he said.
Benbrika is the first person to have their citizenship revoked onshore under the government's terrorism-related provisions of the Australian Citizenship Act.
Benbrika was one of 17 men arrested during mass anti-terror raids in 2005.
He was convicted of intentionally being a member of a terrorist organisation and intentionally directing the activities of a terrorist organisation.
He was due for release this month, but will remain in prison as an interim detention order is enforced. The government has sought to keep him behind bars on an continuing detention order.
Mr Dutton would not confirm whether Benbrika would appeal the decision, but said the government may seek his deportation even if he had time left to serve.
"If there is the ability to remove threats from Australia or to stop them coming back to Australia to commit a terrorist act here, then of course we would look at any of those options," he said.
"Generally speaking, people would serve out their sentence and then be deported, or be placed into immigration detention until they can be deported from Australia.
"The more we can stop these people from coming back to Australia, the quicker we can deport these people, the safer the Australian public remains."
There are concerns the move could put Benbrika out of the reach of Australian authorities if he were to reoffend, but Mr Dutton said his top priority was keeping Australians safe.
"It doesn't matter who it is, if it's a person that is posing significant a significant terrorist threat to our country, we will do whatever is possible within Australian law protect Australians. That remains our priority in relation to Benbrika," he said.
"We are taking action in the court that we believe will give us the best opportunity to keep Australians safe."
The Home Affairs Minister said 20 dual-nationals have had their citizenship revoked due to terrorist conduct.
Originally published as Terrorist stripped of Aussie citizenship