Since the start of the Syrian civil war, up to 200 Australians have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight with jihadist groups, and dozens more have been charged with terrorism offences in Australia. The legal process against jihadists in Australia and those returning from overseas will continue for years to come. Foreign fighters claim that they simply provided humanitarian assistance or did not fight, and domestic terrorists often blame mental health issues for their acts. Yet little is known publicly about their true motivations, how they organised themselves, what role mental health has really played in their actions, how contrite they have been, and how likely they are to be rehabilitated.
Research Fellow Dr Rodger Shanahan has written widely on foreign fighters and has been an expert witness in more than two dozen terrorism cases in Australia. He attempted to shed light on the often darkened world of the Australian jihadist, using their own words and those of the courts to try to explain the motivations and worldview of Australian terrorists.