JihadistsAFP photo

The head of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization (ASIO) warned on Tuesday of the threat to the country from Islamic extremists and homegrown fighters returning from Syria and Iraq.

Speaking to Australia’s ABC network, director-general David Irvine warned he is considering raising Australia’s terror alert level to high, which indicates an attack on home soil is likely.

Irvine said the growing menace posed by Islamic extremists and homegrown fighters returning from Syria and Iraq means he must consider the move.

“The threat has actually been building here in Australia over the last year or so... I have an elevated level of concern,” he said.

“The notion of a threat level at medium is that an attack is possible or could occur... if we raise it to high it means an attack is likely,” added Irvine.

“I am certainly contemplating very seriously the notion of lifting it higher... because of the influence of Syria and Iraq and the numbers of people going there to fight,” he continued.

According to the Australian-based Financial Review, it is believed up to 100 Australians are supporting terrorism through financing or recruiting jihadists for the Islamic State.

Another 60 Australians are believed to be fighting in either Syria or Iraq, some in leadership positions.

This issue of Islamists from Western countries joining the jihadists in the Middle East has been a problem not just for Australia.

There are also Russians, Germans, Canadians and French citizens taking part in the fighting in Syria.

As well, in February it was estimated that at least 50 U.S. citizens are fighting in Syria, and are liable to bring terrorism back to their home country once the war is over.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said last week that Washington is hoping for unanimous approval of a UN resolution calling for global action against the growing phenomenon of foreigners traveling to fight for terrorist groups.