In an effort to prevent the flow of foreign fighters into Syria and Iraq, Australia has implemented a passenger-check system for travelers leaving the country for international destinations.
It’s part of an increasing effort worldwide to curb foreign fighters traveling to the Middle East rather than just trying to stop would-be terrorists from entering countries to commit acts of violence.
Passengers leaving Australia through the country’s international airport will now receive a “board” or “no board” message, either through a ticketing agent or from check-in kiosks, the Sydney Morning Herald reported early Thursday. People who are flagged might still be able to board their flights after a ticket agent calls local authorities for clearance.
The new system was part of a counterterrorism bill passed in 2014, but it took more than a year to implement the technology supplied by global air transport communications and IT company SITA.
According to SITA’s South Pacific regional director, Jay Youlten, the technology was first implemented in 2000 during the Summer Olympics in Sydney to guard against terrorists traveling to Australia -- and remained in place ever since.
But the rise of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in Syria in Iraq led to a large influx of foreign fighters that created a need for countries to more closely monitor terrorist outflows from their own ranks.
According to security intelligence provider Soufan Group, as many as 255 people have emigrated from Australia since 2011 to join ISIS in its fight to carve out a self-proclaimed caliphate out of the Levant, a region encompassing Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and parts of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.