Members of the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team arrested two males, one of them a 17-year-old youth, as part of ongoing inquiries into the activities of people attempting to travel to, or returning from, conflict zones in Syria and Iraq.
The 17-year-old youth was arrested at Merrylands Police Station this morning and was charged with one count of prepare to engage in commission of offence against section 119.1, contrary to section 119.4(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and one count of give/receive goods/services to promote section 119.1 offence, contrary to section 119.4(5) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). The maximum penalty for these offences are life imprisonment.
The maximum penalty for these offences are life imprisonment.
It will be alleged in court that this youth made preparations and attempted to travel to the conflict region, but was not successful in doing so. It will also be alleged that he played an active role in encouraging another person to attempt travel to the region.
A 24-year-old Merrylands man was arrested later at Birrong. He was charged with one count of incursions into foreign states with the intention of engaging in hostile activities, contrary to section 6(1)(a) of the Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act 1978. The maximum penalty for this offence is 20 years imprisonment.
It will be alleged in court that this man travelled to Syria in July 2013 to join the group then-known as Jabhat al-Nusra, before returning to Australia in February 2014.
Search warrants have also been conducted in the Sydney suburbs of Merrylands, Bass Hill, Horningsea Park and Miller as part of ongoing NSW JCTT inquiries.
A spokesman for the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team – comprising the NSW Police Force, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, and the NSW Crime Commission – said they would like to reassure the community there was no current or impending threat to the community as part of today’s activities.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Counter Terrorism Neil Gaughan said investigations into returning foreign fighters were of importance to the NSW JCTT.
“Police are aware of the threat that people who have travelled to Syria and Iraq can pose to the community – especially if they have been exposed to an extremist ideology and acquired knowledge and skills that could be used to facilitate activity here in Australia,” Assistant Commissioner Gaughan said.
“The challenge for our members is to gather evidence to an appropriate standard to enable a prosecution, but we will work cooperatively and diligently to act in response to these potential threats and ensure the safety of the community.”
NSW Police Force Specialist Operations Commander Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said today’s arrests were a clear reminder of the determination of investigators.
“No matter how long these matters take we don’t give up,” she said.
“Investigations vary in complexity and length.
“It’s about gathering the evidence and completing the linkages.
When we become aware of people who may be involved in terrorist activity then we use all our investigative capabilities to keep our community safe.
“We won’t compromise thoroughness for speed.”
Deputy Commissioner Burn emphasised that the whole community needed to work together.
“The first and most important starting point is the mums and dads, brothers and sisters, friends, work colleagues and neighbours.
“You will be the first to see a change in their behaviour, please let us know.
“These changes could be separating from their family, friends and their local community, or when someone demonstrates a significant move towards extreme beliefs and attitudes.
“They might begin to advocate or promote the use of violence to achieve an ideological, political or religious goal.
“Let us help you so you can help them.”
Anyone with information should always come forward no matter how small or insignificant they think it may be, by calling the National Security Hotline on 1800 123400.