In yet another first this week, a western Sydney man has been the first person on Australian soil to be charged with “incursion into foreign countries with the intention of engaging in hostile activities”. Law enforcement authorities allege the 25-year-old from Mount Lewis travelled to Syria to fight for a ‘terrorist organisation’. It is alleged the man travelled to the Syrian conflict zone in March 2015, and returned to Australia in October 2015, where he has since been subject to ongoing investigations.
The arrest was part of a joint operation involving members of the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT). This team includes the NSW Police Force, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, and the NSW Crime Commission. The taskforce executed warrants at the man’s Mount Lewis home on Tuesday morning, which led to his arrest.
In addition to the foreign fighter charge under section 119.1(2) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The Sydney man was also charged with enter/remain in declared area contrary to section 119.2(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment. As well as drug-related offences for dealing in proceeds of crime under section 400.3(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
NSW Police Force Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing emphasised that “it’s illegal to fight for a terrorist organisation, anywhere…anyone who thinks they can, needs to reconsider that position”. With the current terror threat in Australia remaining at ‘probable’, the public should continue to exercise caution and report any suspicious incidents to the relevant authorities.
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