Two men charged following counter terrorism operation in Brisbane and Melbourne

UPDATE: **New footage of extradition now available through Hightail**

Editor's Note: Vision of the joint investigation is available via Hightail

Two men have been charged for their alleged involvement in running a sophisticated terrorist network that facilitated the travel of a number of Australian foreign terrorist fighters to Syria between 2012 and 2014.

It will be alleged that the two men played senior roles in a South-East Queensland-based syndicate which maintained a religiously motivated violent extremist ideology and a desire to travel to Syria to engage in hostile activities. 

Yesterday (March 25), the Queensland Joint Counter Terrorism Team (QLD JCTT), with the assistance of the Victoria JCTT, successfully arrested the two men following a coordinated operation with arrests occurring in both Queensland and Victoria.

Police will allege the two men developed networks in Australia, Turkey and Syria that were used by Australian foreign terrorist fighters to enter Syria in order to join terrorist organisations, including Jabhat al-Nusra, and engage in hostile activities against Syrian government forces.

A 34-year-old man from Chambers Flat in Queensland has been charged with:

  • One count of incursions into foreign states with the intention of engaging in hostile activities, contrary to s.6(1)(a) of the Crimes (Foreign Incursion and Recruitment) Act 1978 (Cth).
  • One count of engaging in a hostile activity in a foreign state, contrary to s.6(1)(b) of the Crimes (Foreign Incursion and Recruitment) Act 1978 (Cth).

The maximum penalty if convicted of these offences is 20 years imprisonment.

He has also been charged with:

  • Four counts of preparations for foreign incursions into foreign States for purpose of engaging in hostile activities, contrary to s.7(1)(e) of the Crimes (Foreign Incursion and Recruitment) Act 1978 (Cth).
  • One count of preparations for foreign incursions into foreign States for purpose of engaging in hostile activities, contrary to s.7(1)(a) of the Crimes (Foreign Incursion and Recruitment) Act 1978 (Cth).

The maximum penalty if convicted of these offences is 10 years imprisonment.

The man is due to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court today (26 March 2021).

A 31-year-old man from Doncaster East in Victoria has also been charged with:

  • One count of preparations for foreign incursions into foreign States for purpose of engaging in hostile activities.

The maximum penalty if convicted is 10 years imprisonment.

The second man appeared at Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday to face an extradition hearing to Queensland.

AFP Commander Stephen Dametto from the Counter Terrorism and Special Investigations Command said the arrests are a demonstration of the commitment of the QLD JCTT, which comprises members from the Australian Federal Police, Queensland Police Service and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, in keeping the community safe.

"Today is an example of our commitment to discourage Australians from fighting overseas and holding people to account for their involvement in supporting terrorism and terrorist organisations," Commander Dametto said.

"It also highlights the hard work and professionalism of the people and agencies involved in the JCTTs and their dedication to protect the community."

Queensland Police Service Acting Superintendent Heath Hutchings of Security and Counter Terrorism Command said today's arrests reinforce the value and investment of the Queensland Police Service and our partners in the JCTT to keep the community safe. 

"It was a protracted, challenging and complex investigation and through persistence and tenacity we have reached resolution today in the arrest of the two persons," Acting Superintendent Hutchings said.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Hermans Counter Terrorism Command said members of the public should be reassured by today's activities.

"Today's arrest highlights the cooperative nature of these investigations involving agencies from across Australia, and I would like to reinforce that there is no ongoing threat to the Victorian community."

Anyone with information about extremist activity or possible threats to the community should come forward, no matter how small or insignificant you may think the information may be. Report any suspicious activity to Triple Zero (000), Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or the National Security Hotline on 1800 1234 00.

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