Young Australian jihadists are drifting from Syria into Iraq as part of well-organised rebel factions, suggesting their involvement is already sophisticated and highly militant.
Muslim community figure Wissam Haddad said he was in contact with two Sydney men in Iraq who had been taking strict orders from superiors within the al-Qaeda splinter group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
He said he knew of several more who have crossed into Iraq from Syria to join the bloody uprising.
''It's not a circus, they are taking orders, they have to ask for permission to do anything,'' said Mr Haddad, owner of the al-Risalah Islamic centre in Bankstown.
''Some Australians are freelancing but most have made their way into Iraq and joined ISIL.''
Convicted terrorist Khaled Sharrouf is reportedly one of a handful of Australians who have left Syria for Iraq, but a senior NSW police officer said he would be ''gobsmacked'' if anyone knew the whereabouts of young Australian fighters with certainty.
''I'm yet to be convinced that anyone can definitely say who is where,'' he said.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she had cancelled the passports of Australians whom intelligence officials believe travelled to the Middle East to fight with extremist groups.
But Mr Haddad said the young fighters he knew had no desire to come home.
''They're after two things - victory for Islam or martyrdom,'' he said. ''They have no intention of coming back.''
He expected many more young men, mostly dual Australian-Lebanese citizens, to leave Australia for the Iraqi battlefields as the prospect of a caliphate, or Islamic state, became real.