National

Hope for IS terrorist Sharrouf’s children

By AAP Newswire

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is considering allowing terrorist Khaled Sharrouf's orphaned children to come home, but says national security is his number one priority.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says there is no reason the children should not be brought back to Australia, arguing they should not be treated as a political football.

Sharrouf's three children are at a refugee camp in Syria and have been reunited with their grandmother Karen Nettleton, who has been negotiating with officials to bring the youngsters home.

Mr Morrison says the government has been working with the Red Cross and is taking each case of surviving children of Islamic State fighters on their merits.

"In every single case we will be putting the security of Australians at the top of the list," he told reporters in Victoria on Tuesday.

"There are processes to be followed and there's still a long way to go on these things. We'll deal with each case - every individual child - on its merits and follow the proper process."

The children - Zaynab, 17, Hoda, 16, and Humzeh, 8 - were taken to Syria by their parents, who have since died.

Zaynab now has two toddler daughters and is heavily pregnant.

Mr Shorten said the children should not be held responsible for being dragged into a war zone.

"They shouldn't be a political football - they have suffered," he told reporters in Adelaide.

"Their parents took them to a war zone, incredibly irresponsibly. Their parents took them into a regime of terrorism. These children shouldn't be held responsible for what their parents did."

Sharrouf was killed in an air strike in September 2017, along with his two older sons, Abdullah, 12, and Zarqawi, 11.

The children's mother, Mrs Nettleton's daughter Tara, died of medical complications in 2015.

Mrs Nettleton had not seen her grandchildren since 2014 but was reunited with them at the al-Hawl camp in northern Syria where those fleeing Islamic State's last enclave at Baghouz ended up.

Zaynab said she and her siblings had no choice about being taken into the war zone.

"We weren't the ones that chose to come here in the first place," she told the ABC's Four Corners program.

"I mean we were brought here by our parents. And now that our parents are gone, we want to live. And for me and my children I want to live a normal life just like anyone would want to live a normal life."

Her sister Hoda, who was 11 when she was taken out of Australia, told Four Corners: "I didn't know I was in Syria until after we crossed the borders and I heard people speaking Arabic."

"I asked my mum where we were. And she told me we were in Syria. I started crying."