3 Oct 2014

NZer accused of trying to fight in Syria

10:09 pm on 3 October 2014

New information has emerged about a New Zealand man accused of preparing to travel overseas to fight against the Syrian government.

New information shows the New Zealand terrorism suspect Amin Mohamed, who is facing trial in Melbourne on four counts of preparing to fight in Syria, came here as an eight-year-old refugee from Somalia.

The now 24-year-old went to Australia in 2012 and reported a lost passport the next year. A new one was issued, but when he tried to leave the country he was told that New Zealand authorities had cancelled it.

Radio New Zealand has learned Mr Mohamed was later telephoned by a member of the Security Intelligence Service and accused of contact with people involved in terrorism.

He was arrested in December and granted bail, but was interned in an immigration facility after his Australian residency was cancelled.

Court case begins

Yesterday was the first day of Amin Mohamed's committal hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates Court.

The court was told Mr Mohamed made arrangements to travel to Syria with the sole intent of fighting to overthrow the government.

Mr Mohamed told authorities that he was travelling to meet his fiancee, whose name he did not know, the AAP reports.

It is alleged he obtained a new passport and bought a phone in a false name as part of efforts to join the effort to remove president Bashar al-Assad, the court was told.

Prosecutor Mark Gibson said police intercepted phone conversations where Mr Mohamed was encouraged to travel to Syria to obtain "martyrdom for the sake of Allah".

Defence lawyers told the court the prosecution must prove Mr Mohamed intended to fight in Syria.

Calls monitored

Amin Mohamed booked a flight to Turkey and made plans to travel from there to Syria in September 2013, Mr Gibson told the contested committal hearing. But he was unable to leave Australia after authorities cancelled his passport.

In a text message he sent to someone after he was intercepted by federal police at Brisbane Airport, he wrote: "She's not happy. She reckons I'm going to end up blowing myself up."

The Sydney resident, who is being detained at Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre, is charged with four counts of preparing to enter a foreign state to engage in hostile activities. The charges each carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years.

During his court appearance, it was alleged that Mr Mohamed had spoken repeatedly to an alleged jihadist recruiter in Australia, Hamdi al Qudsi, who is also awaiting trial.

New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs, which administers passports, is making no comment on the case, nor is the SIS.

Mr Mohamed, a courier company worker formerly of Villawood, was living in Australia on a temporary visa. The hearing resumes on 18 December.