The imminent deportation of an Isis-linked 26-year-old woman has sparked fresh transtasman tension after it emerged she left New Zealand aged six and grew up in Australia, where her citizenship has been cancelled.
It means New Zealand is left as the only option for the deportation of Suhayra Aden, who is being detained in Turkey with her two children after crossing the border from Syria and the ruins of the would-be Isis caliphate.
The case has brought quick parallels with Australia’s ejection to New Zealand of criminals born here but who grew up there.
Their growing numbers has brought a scale, sophistication and threat of violence to organised crime in New Zealand that outstrips the operation of traditional New Zealand criminal networks.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Aden had not lived in New Zealand since she was 6 years old, grew up in Australia, has family in Australia and left for Syria from Australia on her Australian passport.
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That passport – and her Australia citizenship – had since been cancelled, meaning New Zealand emerged as the default country for deportation.
Ardern said the case was known to Australian and New Zealand authorities, and she had personally raised the issue with Scott Morrison and asked they work together.
“I was then informed in the following year that Australia has unilaterally revoked the citizenship of the individual involved.
“I think New Zealand, frankly, is tired of having Australia export its problems. This is clearly an individual whose links sit most closely with Australia.”
Morrison defended Australia’s actions. “My job is Australia’s interests. And it’s my job as Australia’s prime minister to put Australia’s national security interests first.
“Australia’s interest here is that we do not want to see terrorists, who’ve fought with terrorist organisations, enjoying privileges of citizenship that I think they forfeit the second they engage as an enemy of our country.”
The Republic of Turkey’s Ministry of National Defence said Aden was an Islamic State terrorist.
“Three New Zealand nationals including an adult and two children were caught by our border guards in Hatay’s Reyhanli district while trying to enter illegally from Syria,” a ministry statement said.
“The adult, a 26-year-old woman named S.A. was identified as a Daesh [Isis] terrorist wanted with a ‘blue notice’.”
Intelligence expert Dr Paul Buchanan, of 36th Parallel Assessments, said the blue notice indicated tAden was sought for information rather than acts of terrorism.
“It’s a notification they want to get information on a person. It doesn’t mean she’s been doing anything bad. Walking across the border with kids would seem to indicate she was a camp follower or concubine.”
In 2015, the prospect New Zealanders were among those who had travelled to marry fighters was raised by NZ Security Intelligence Service director-general Rebecca Kitteridge, who told MPs that since 2014 there had been “New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria”.
It later emerged none of the dozen women known of by the NZSIS left from New Zealand. Instead, they had travelled from Australia.
Islamic Women’s Council national coordinator Aliya Danzeisen linked Australia’s action over the 26-year-old with its 501 programme that has seen it strip its passports from New Zealand-born criminals and send them back over the Tasman.
“What’s on my mind is the concept of country’s responsibilities for the people they have helped rear. If Australia was in partnership with New Zealand, they would be assisting with supporting people and addressing these issues of radicalisation.”
Danzeisen said the returning gang members was an example that came before Australia’s decision to cancel Aden’s passport, even though she had lived in the country since age 6.
“Australia just keeps sending people back to us. It smacks of injustice and a lack of partnership.”
Danzeisen said the process of radicalisation required strong networks around the individual affected.
“These people who have grown up in Australia have networks and communities they can rely on to build support. Instead, they place them in almost foreign countries. She was a child [when she left New Zealand] and doesn’t have the support networks, as far as I know.”
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