6 January 2023

UPDATE: Woman to face court over allegedly entering Syria when occupied by Islamic State

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Wagga Wagga Local Court

A woman is expected to face Griffith Local Court via audio-visual link charged with entering Syria under ISIS. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

FRIDAY UPDATE: The NSW Department of Communities and Justice has advised the 31-year-old woman is due to appear via AVL at Griffith Local Court today (Friday 6 January 2023).

THURSDAY: A woman is expected to face Wagga Wagga Local Court charged with entering and remaining in parts of Syria that were under the control of the Islamic State terrorist organisation.

AFP and NSW Police investigators from the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT), arrested the woman after executing search warrants at Young and Parklea, earlier today (5 January).

The woman is expected to face Wagga Local Court via audio visual link, charged with entering, or remaining in, declared areas, contrary to section 119.2 of the Criminal Code (Cth) and the offence carries a penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Police say it will be alleged in court that the woman, who is now living in Young, travelled to Syria in early 2014 to join her husband, who left Australia in 2013 and joined Islamic State.

It will also be alleged the woman was aware of her husband’s activities with Islamic State, and willingly travelled to the conflict region. The woman’s husband is believed to have died in Syria in 2018.

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Police said the woman was in Al Roj Internally Displaced Persons camp and returned to Australia in October 2022.

She was charged after a complex and long-term investigation by the JCTT that began when the woman was in Syria and continued following her return to Australia.

It will be alleged newly obtained evidence enabled the JCTT to charge the woman.

There is no current or impending threat to the Australian community as part of this activity.

AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Counter Terrorism and Special Investigations Command Sandra Booth said the JCTT would continue to investigate Australians returning from declared conflict areas to ensure the safety of the Australian community.

“Individuals will be brought before the courts when evidence supports allegations that returned individuals have committed offences in conflict areas,” Acting AC Booth said.

“The JCTT will continue to target criminal activity and does not target specific ideologies or beliefs.”

NSW Police Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton, said the priority of the NSW JCTT was to protect the community from those who seek to do us harm.

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“We have zero tolerance for Australians – or anyone – who seek to commit acts of violence or extremism, and those considering doing the wrong thing will come under our notice,” Assistant Commissioner Walton said.

“Our investigators methodically gather information and evidence, conduct surveillance and work tirelessly to target criminal activities which pose a threat to the Australian community.”

The NSW JCTT comprises members of the AFP, NSW Police Force, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, and the NSW Crime Commission.

Anyone with information about extremist activity or possible threats to the community should come forward, no matter how small or insignificant they may think the information may be. The number for the National Security Hotline is: 1800 123 400.

Information relating to any criminal activity in the community can be reported to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit Crime Stoppers. Information is treated in strict confidence.

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