A Sydney girl, 16, has appeared in court on terror financing charges which carry a maximum term of 25 years’ jail.
She is accused of sending thousands of dollars to the so-called Islamic State group in Syria through a Western Union money transfer, reports say. read More after the cut…
The girl and a male accomplice, 20, who allegedly gave her the money were arrested in raids on Tuesday. The pair allegedly met in a park on Tuesday to discuss a plan to send money to Syria that day, reports said. They had reportedly developed a “sophisticated facilitation path” of wiring funds and had completed successful transfers before.
The man, named by media as Milad Atai, was also arrested during Australia’s biggest counter-terror raids in September 2014. The girl is accused of admitting to a police informant that she had wired A$10,000 ($7,600, £5,400) to Syria at the behest of an Islamic State fighter.
She was also allegedly planning to conduct another transfer of A$5,000 when she was caught on Tuesday morning in a park along with Mr Atai, who had handed her the money. But her lawyer argued that the prosecution’s case was based on inferences in her conversations with the police informant and said it may have amounted to entrapment. Mr Atai faces charges similar to the girl’s.
Investigators will now comb the pair’s electronic footprint and expect to find more transactions and more players. The pair, who have both publicly espoused their support for Islamic State and jihadists, became friends through a mutual friend and live about 100 metres away from each other in Guildford. They were arrested in Guildford Park on Tuesday morning and the girl’s family were crying and screaming as heavily armed officers took her away.
On one of her social media profiles, the girl said last year she had stopped talking to many of her friends and started wearing a jilbab – a head-to-toe covering – and going to the Masjid Al Noor mosque in South Granville.
“I stopped talking to everyone lol soz,” she wrote on her ask.fm page. “Nothing happened I just don’t talk to anyone anymore.”
The girl, who has not been on the police radar until now, said she wanted to get married soon but not to a Shia Muslim or a man without a beard.
One friend accused her of becoming a hardline Wahabi Muslim. “You went from a girl who was friends with everyone to a wahabi in 2 seconds,” the post said.
Mr Atai, 20, knew his every move was being monitored by police and intelligence agencies and previously spoke on national television about his tight network of jihadists and killers. He asked for his identity to be concealed in the interview with the ABC last year yet Fairfax Media can reveal he was the person behind the startling statements, in which he expressed his wish to die for his religion and his lack of sympathy for the family of murdered police accountant, Curtis Cheng.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said Mr Atai was still under investigation over the death of police accountant Curtis Cheng, who was gunned down by 15-year-old Farhad Jabar. Police have reiterated concerns over extremists targeting young Australians.
Mr Atai’s best friend is Raban Alou, who has been charged with orchestrating the Cheng shooting and giving the gun to schoolboy killer Farhad Jabar. His older brother, bikie gang member Masood Atai, is serving an 18-year sentence in Goulburn’s SuperMax for a bikie murder in 2009.
Mr Atai’s former schoolmate at Parramatta High School, Omarjan Azari, took him under his wing and taught him hardline Islam, he told the ABC. The pair became part of a group who called themselves the Shura and regularly met at Parramatta Mosque.
The group of 18 were targeted in the pre-dawn Operation Appleby raids in September 2014, however Azari was the only person charged at the time with conspiring to behead a random member of the public in Sydney.
“[It is] disturbing that we continue to deal with teenage children in this environment,” NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn told reporters on Tuesday.