A 25-YEAR-OLD man who allegedly travelled to war-torn Syria to fight for Islamic State has been arrested and charged by counter-terrorism police in Sydney.
Officers arrested the young man at his Mount Lewis home on Tuesday morning and charged him with several offences, including “incursion into foreign countries with the intention of engaging in hostile activities”.
It’s the first time someone in Australia has been charged with the offence, which is punishable by life in prison.
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Police allege the man travelled to the Syrian conflict zone in March 2015, and returned to Australia in October 2015. He has been under investigation and constant surveillance ever since.
He has also been charged with entering/remain in a declared area, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, along with dealing in the proceeds of crime.
The young man is scheduled to appear before Bankstown Local Court today.
The NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) said the man’s arrest was part of an ongoing investigation into money laundering, which saw three arrests earlier this year.
The agency has reassured the community there is no current or impending threat to the community.
AFP acting Assistant Commissioner Jennifer Hurst, National Manager Counter Terrorism, said this activity was the culmination of long-term surveillance, intelligence, and protracted evidence-gathering.
“This has been a long a pain staking process, putting the pieces of the puzzle together to turn intelligence into evidence,” acting Assistant Commissioner Hurst said.
“Keeping the community safe from anyone that may seek to cause Australians harm is the key role of the JCTT – it’s the drive that pushes our investigators to see long running investigations through, and I’d like to thank them for their commitment and dedication in pursuing this operation.”
Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing, Commander Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Command said the message can’t be any clearer, it’s illegal to fight for a terrorist organisation, anywhere.
“Anyone who thinks they can needs to reconsider that position.
“The public can be reassured that all law enforcement agencies, at state and national level, work tirelessly to ensure the safety of the community,” Assistant Commissioner Willing said.
Anyone with information on crime should always come forward, no matter how small or insignificant you may think that information may be. The National Security Hotline is 1800 123400.
You can report also information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via nsw.crimestoppers.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.