Two men have been charged by Australian counter-terrorism police for allegedly being involved in running what has been described as a “sophisticated terrorist network”.
The pair – one based in Melbourne and the other in Brisbane – are said to have assisted several Australian-based people to travel to Syria in 2012 and 2013 to become fighters for terrorist groups.
They appeared in court yesterday (Friday) and have been named in the media as Ahmed Talib, aged 31, from Melbourne and Gabriel Crazzi, aged 34, from Brisbane.
Religiously motivated violent extremist ideology
According to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), it is 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”.
Police say the pair developed networks in Australia, Turkey and Syria that were used by Australian foreign terrorist fighters to enter Syria to join terrorist organisations and engage in hostile activities against Syrian government forces.
These organisations include Jabhat al-Nusra, also described as al-Qaeda in Syria or al-Qaeda in the Levant. It is a rival jihadist movement to ISIS.
Allegedly funded country’s first suicide bomber
In 2013, the network allegedly funded Australia’s first suicide bomber, Ahmed Succarieh, who killed 35 people at a checkpoint in Syria.
On Thursday, Talib and Crazzi were apprehended by the Queensland Joint Counter-Terrorism Team with the assistance of the Victoria Joint Counter-Terrorism Team. Simultaneous arrests occurred in both Queensland and Victoria.
Talib, a gemstone trader from Doncaster East in Melbourne, is said to have used his family business to move money for the terrorists.
Police seize $80,000 and valuable gemstones
“We seized $80,000 in cash, a number of gemstones of high-value, also various electronic devices that we will examine over the next period,” AFP Commander Stephen Dametto from the Counter-Terrorism and Special Investigations Command said.
Crazzi, who is a dog trainer from Logan, near Brisbane, faces charges including one count of incursions into foreign states with the intention of engaging in hostile activities, as well as one count of engaging in a hostile activity in a foreign state.
The AFP said the arrests were almost a decade in the making, with Dametto noting that the arrests were “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”.