The bookseller used funds to support a push to create an
The bookseller used funds to support a push to create an "Islamic State" in Syria

Motives behind man who funded an Islamic State heard in court

PARANOIA and suspicion led a Queensland man to make covert negotiations with his brother in Syria, a court has heard.

Defence barrister Saul Holt told Brisbane Supreme Court said Omar Succarrieh was worried about his brother in Syria and began operating secretly to provide financial support, and extra manpower, after his passport was cancelled.

But he said his client was prepared to be a cautionary tale to young men in Australia's Muslim community, guiding young people away from the path he took.

Mr Holt said Succarieh was not radicalised in prison, rather now had a level of insight into his behaviour and would cooperate with Australian authorities in the future.

He said his client had now formed important relationships with senior people in Australia's Muslim community and "the real hope" was that he could take his religious instruction from them instead of the internet.

Justice Roslyn Atkinson said it was the Islamic community that suffered most from his actions because it made people suspicious.

She said such actions led to a rise in Islamophobia and affected the cohesion of our society.

Mr Holt said this was a wicked problem but Succarieh could be part of the success story if he could turn his life around and give back to his community.

He said Succarieh was not supporting an organised group of foreign fighters in fox holes, rather helping his brother who had "literally run out of cash".

"The four Australians were living in Syria in a particular area and conducting their lives there as well as occasionally patrols that might bring them in touch with the Assad regime forces," he said.

Mr Holt said Succarieh had spent three months in solitary confinement where he had almost no contact with others for 24 hours a day.

The court heard the cell had a window to a brick wall.

Mr Holt said references spoke of a great father and someone who had often engaged in charity, including helping clean up after the Brisbane floods with other Muslim men.

He said Succarieh was described as generous, funny and kind to children.

Mr Holt said there was a palpable sense of his regret on the way it's impacted his children and family.

He said Succarieh wanted to ensure his future involved looking after his wife and children, not engaging in the activities that brought him before the court.

Justice Roslyn Atkinson will continue listening to submissions before she sentences Succarieh, which could happen tomorrow morning.

Qld man who funded Islamic State showed 'scant remorse'

THERE has been "scant evidence of remorse" from a Queensland man who gave more than US$40,000 to Australian men fighting to establish an Islamic State in Syria.

That's the view from the Commonwealth prosecutions which says significant police resources are being diverted away from other areas to detect people secretly fighting the war from within our borders.

Commonwealth prosecutor Lincoln Crowley told Brisbane Supreme Court that Omar Succarieh and his family did not understand the seriousness, nor the impact, of his actions in funding other Muslims fighting in a foreign conflict, and aiding an Australian man to join his brother in the fight.

"There has been scant evidence of remorse," he said.

"There are expressions of that in the reference letters from family and friends but those testimonials don't speak to an understanding and acceptance that what (Succarieh) did was wrong or was against the law.

"They go more to the issues of regret for placing one's self and one's family in this situation and having been charged."

Mr Crowley said a letter from Succarieh spoke about having made a careless decision, reckless choices and not being aware of the magnitude of the situation.

"It displays a lack of insight into the criminality involved and the seriousness of the offending," he said.

"Also it does not augur well for the prospects of rehabilitation because there has been minimising of the conduct involved and failure to accept responsibility.

"The letter is one which is seeking to explain and characterise the conduct involved as simply a mistake and one made without knowing the full context of the situation but ... (Succarieh) was in contact over a lengthy period of time following what his brother was doing, what his fellow associates were doing, what the situation was with the conflict in Syria and what the various organisations in opposition groups were doing.

"In that context he committed these four offences, having already been warned and spoken to by police.

"In our submission, this can't be characterised as a lapse of judgment or a simple mistake.

"Had (Succarieh) wanted to support the victims of the conflict, he could have done so by contributing to a charity.

"But what he chose to do is fund his brother and his group of foreign fighters who were present in Syria and to make arrangements for another man to join them."

Justice Roslyn Atkinson said people like Succarieh did "a disservice to other people with similar religious beliefs" because it meant suspicion fell "more widely than it needs to because of the secret nature of the activity".

Mr Crowley said Succarieh tried to disguise his offending for seven months even though he suspected he was under investigation and his conversations were likely to be monitored.

He said other valuable police resources had to be taken offline to commit resources to such offending so a sentence directed at general deterrence was necessary.

"The difficulty in detecting this type of offending is because people can involve themselves in a conflict in a foreign state from their home in Brisbane by the use of telephones, social media and other communications," he said.

"What is involved to counter that from the investigation side is the commitment of significant resources which could be put to other uses but which now are having to be put en masse to deal with this type of offending, because of the nature of it and seriousness of it, to ensure this sort of preparatory conduct can be identified, detected and stopped."

Justice Atkinson was told she would have to consider Succariah's solitary confinement while on remand for these charges.

Details of his imprisonment are expected to be placed before court after the lunch break and then Succarieh's defence barrister Saul Holt is expected to speak on behalf of his client.

Logan bookseller provided $US43k to fund foreign fighters

A QUEENSLAND man provided US$43,700 and extra manpower to Australian foreign fighters because he wanted to see the Syrian Government overthrown and an Islamic State established.

Omar Succarieh believed his religious convictions put him above compliance with Australian laws, Crown prosecutor Lincoln Crowley told the court during the Logan man's sentencing.

Mr Crowley said police had spoken to Succarieh in 2013 so he knew his actions to help his brother Abraham and other Muslim men fighting in Syria in 2014 were illegal. 

"The motivation here was one that was born out of particular ideological and religious beliefs held by (Succarieh) about his duty and what he needed to do as part of his faith to involve himself as best as he could in the conflict in Syria," he said.

"Each of the four counts effectively involved Succarieh participating by proxy and vicariously in the Syrian conflict by funding others and assisting others who were able to go fight over there.

"The money that was given, the assistance provided, enabled other persons to do what he was unable or unwilling to do while he remained here in Australia.

"The fact he remained here in Australia and didn't leave doesn't lessen his criminality, doesn't make it less serious.

"What is relevant is the motivation. What ultimately motivated (Succarieh) is he wanted to see the overthrow of the Syrian Government and the eventual establishment of an Islamic state in the Syria region which is part of a belief according to his religion, or his particular view of religion, that he held at the time.

"It was with that aim and that goal in mind that he provided assistance and financial support throughout.

"That religion and ideological motivation … at it showed (Succarieh) was willing to place his ideals and his religious convictions above compliance with the law."

Justice Roslyn Atkinson said Omar Succarieh's behaviour and beliefs were unusual within the Muslim community in Australia.

"While his motivation might have been such, the vast majority of people who adhere to that religion in Australia don't have the same view and don't engage in the same behaviour so it's very unusual within his community," she said.

Mr Crowley said Succarieh held a fundamentalist view of the Muslim religion, one shared by his brother and other people aligning themselves with opposition groups in the Syrian conflict.

He said they all had the same objective in mind - establishment of an Islamic State.

"He believed it was his religious duty to do what he could to involve himself in the conflict in the name of his faith," he said.

"He was not able or willing to go himself to fight, instead he fought with his money and the assistance he was able to provide to G."

Succarieh helped co-ordinate and pay for G, whose real name cannot be used while his matters proceed through the courts, to leave Australia and fight in Syria.

 

EARLIER:

A LOGAN bookstore owner used a covert phone and codes to send his brother US$43,700 to engage in armed hostilities in Syria.

Omah Succarieh also talked his brother Abraham in early 2014 about sending an Australian Muslim man to join the fighting front in Syria.

They discussed how Abraham would help the man across the border into Syria to bolster his fighting efforts in the Middle East.

He would later provide $7700 in to help that man, who can only be known as G while his matters proceed through the court, to do just that.

Succarieh sent the US money to help his brother and three other Australian Muslim men engage in armed hostilities including fighting and patrolling against government and Syrian forces where they were living.

Crown prosecutor Lincoln Crowley said Succarieh was promoting their continued presence in Syria to fight in a foreign conflict.

He said the accused man spent a lot of time planning and co-ordinating the money exchange and extra manpower for his brother.

Succarieh was due to face a trial in Brisbane Supreme Court this week but it fell to a sentence after the prosecution dropped terrorism charges he was facing.

But he pleaded guilty last week to two counts of preparing for incursions into a foreign state and two counts of giving money for incursions into a foreign state.

Mr Crowley said each of the four offences carry a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

He said the legislation was aimed at people intending to commit a foreign incursion in a foreign state.

Mr Crowley said the background of the legislation was to prevent mercenaries who wanted to get involved in other people's conflicts.

He said the Federal Government legislation came about through a number of international obligations and declarations.

Mr Crowley said it was developed in line with a need to preserve international relations with other countries.

The sentencing hearing continues.



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