Khaled Sharrouf: Mother of boy pictured holding severed head 'wants to return to Australia' - but PM warns family will face full force of law

Australian jihadi's family will receive no special treatment

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The mother of a young child who was pictured holding the severed head of a man has been told she will face the "full severity" of the law if she tries to return to Australia with her children.

Convicted terrorist Khaled Sharrouf left Australia in 2013 and took his wife and their five children to the Isis stronghold of Raqqa, in Syria, via Malaysia.

In August, he posted a picture of his seven-year-old son holding the severed head of a Syrian soldier in what John Kerry condemned as “one of the most disturbing, stomach-turning, grotesque photographs ever displayed”.

Sharrouf has appeared in several photos with his children brandishing guns on social media and in gruesome Isis propaganda videos. His 14-year-old daughter reportedly married his close friend Mohamed Elomar, aged 31, earlier this year.

Sharrouf with three of his children

His wife Tara Nettleton is now seeking to return to Australia with her children, according to a report by Fairfax Media. But the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned the whole family would face consequences should they return on Wednesday.

"Crime is crime is crime, and criminals will face the full severity of Australian law, whether they're male or female,” he said.

"I'm afraid you don't get off scot-free just because you say, 'I've seen the error of my ways.' If you commit serious crimes, you should face serious punishment, and as far as I'm concerned, that will always be the case."

Mr Abbott expressed little sympathy for the children who he said would not receive special treatment, telling reporters: "The children of these particular criminals will be dealt with in the same way the children of criminals are normally dealt with.

Tony Abbott

"The point I want to stress is that criminals will be punished whether they're young, whether they're old, whether they're male, whether they're female, whether they're criminals abroad or criminals at home.”

Australia introduced new counterterrorism laws in December to make even visiting Raqqa a criminal offense punishable by 10 years in prison.

Nettleton's mother says she now fears her daughter is in great danger after her plans to flee were publicised in the media.  In a statement provided to the Cranberra Times, she said she was "terrified" her daughter could now become a target.

"I plead with the Australian government and its institutions to put politics aside and do everything in their power to assist my family's safe passage and return to my home. They are young Australians in real danger."