Turnbull urges digital companies to be tougher on terrorists as proposed visa changes come before parliament

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Turnbull, Dutton
Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (L) and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton speak on Australia's citizenship test during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, April 20, 2017. Reuters/Lukas Coch

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten are slated to issue a joint call for digital companies to perform more crackdowns against terrorists. The move comes as Mostafa Mahamed, more popularly known as al-Qaeda member Abu Sulayman, has drawn attention on YouTube for his jihadi Q&A sessions.

Mahamed appears on YouTube each week for a month-long series for an English language news site. The 33-year-old, who grew up in Sydney’s southern suburbs, is hailed as one of the most senior terrorists Australia has produced.

In one of his YouTube clips, he revealed that one of the reasons he joined the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda was the cancellation of his Australian passport.  “It wasn’t possible just to pick up and leave,” he said.

Tougher on extremists

Turnbull will reportedly outline the need to perform more crackdowns on terrorists in the “ungoverned digital spaces.” According to news.com.au, the prime minister will tell parliament that the country is not immune from the global impact of the conflicts in the Middle East and instability across the globe.

He is also expected to announce that Attorney-General George Brandis will work alongside his counterparts in the Five Eyes intelligence network. They will tackle the issue of terror in the digital world.

Moreover, Turnbull is set to urge Labor to pass laws to change visa and citizenship requirements. In April, the Australian leader announced he would make changes to the Australian citizenship test. The proposed changes would require people applying for Australian citizenship to wait four years after obtaining permanent residency and demonstrate English language proficiency.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the plan to introduce a more strict English language test got a positive public support since 2015 when the concept was launched. "All of the research demonstrates that if people have the higher capacity, higher ability in terms of speaking and writing and listening and reading the English language, then they have a better opportunity to succeed whether it's at school, in the workplace or in society,” SBS quotes him as saying. If passed by the Australian parliament, the proposed changes will bring total overhaul to the country's citizenship process.

Shorten, on the other hand, will call for social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and developers of communication apps to do more on policing terrorists. He is also expected to urge further cooperation between the federal and state governments for the prevention of terrorist attacks.

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