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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2005, 11:48 GMT
Australia 'may deport militants'
Police man a road block near a police shooting in outer Sydney Tuesday, 8 November 2005.
Mr Howard wants anti-terrorism police to have greater powers
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has said he is considering stripping people of Australian citizenship if they are convicted of terrorism crimes.

He said the measure could apply to people who had dual nationality and already served their jail terms.

Mr Howard was speaking at the start of a parliamentary debate on controversial new anti-terrorism laws.

Earlier this week, police arrested 17 people on terrorism-related charges during raids in Sydney and Melbourne.

Eight people were detained in the Sydney raids, where police said they had foiled "the final stages of a large-scale terrorist attack".

One of the detainees is still recovering in hospital after receiving a gunshot wound to the neck following a shoot-out with police.

The detainees are due to appear in court on Friday, charged with planning a terrorist attack.

digitally altered video grab from the New South Wales Police, showing one of the suspects being led into a cell, 8 Nov 2005
At least 17 people have been arrested as a result of the raids

A further nine were arrested in Melbourne, charged with membership of a terrorist group.

Some of these detained in Tuesday's raids had roots in Asia and the Middle East, but at least six were apparently born in Australia or naturalised Australian citizens.

'Not very good citizens'

Mr Howard said he had asked Attorney-General Philip Ruddock to examine ways of revoking the citizenship of anyone convicted of terrorist crimes.

"Once a person has served the sentence, if they have another nationality and they've proved they're not a very good Australian citizen, perhaps they should be returned," Mr Howard told Sky television.

SYDNEY: Eight men charged for planning a terrorist act
Omar Baladjam also charged with attempted murder for firing at police
At least two suspects alleged to have had militant training in Pakistan
MELBOURNE: Nine arrested on charges of being members of a terrorist group
Abu Bakr alleged to be overall leader
All detainees have names suggesting Middle Eastern origin, apart from Shane Kent
But he added that no definite decision on the issue had been taken.

"There are arguments for and against, and I'm listening to those arguments," he said.

Federal lawmakers began debating Mr Howard's proposed raft of new anti-terrorism laws on Thursday.

The controversial regulations would allow the detention of suspects for two weeks without charge, and the use of electronic surveillance.

They would also toughen jail terms for inciting race hatred or violence against the community.

Muslim and civil rights leaders have continued to question the need for tougher laws.

Mr Howard, anxious to allay fears of Australia's Muslim community - which makes up 1.5% of the population - assured them that they would not become the specific target of any new laws.

"There is nothing in our laws, nor will there be anything in our laws, that targets an individual group," he told local radio on Wednesday.

Mr Howard wants the new anti-terrorism laws passed by Christmas, so they can be in place before the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in March 2006.

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03 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific

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