Connect with us

Australia

Brighton siege gunman Yacqub Khayre not on anti-terror cops’ radar despite extensive criminal history

Published

on

Dan Oakes and Sam Clark

Yacqub Khayre, the 29-year-old gunman who killed a man, took a woman hostage and sparked a siege in Melbourne yesterday, was not on the radar of counter-terror police after his release from prison in December 2016, the ABC has learned.

Counter-terrorism investigators are now attempting to fill in the gaps about Khayre’s activities in the six months since his release from a Victorian prison over an aggravated burglary he committed while high on the drug ice in 2012.

Khayre, who was born in Somalia but spent some time in a Kenyan refugee camp before moving to Australia with his grandparents as a child, was well known to police and had an extensive criminal history.

Yacqub Khayre (right) leaving a Melbourne court in 2010. Photo: AAP

His parents came to Australia in 2012 but a court heard his relationship with them was a difficult one.

In 2007 he was sentenced to two years in a youth justice centre for more than 40 charges of burglary, theft, assault and resisting arrest.

At the time of yesterday’s attack he was living with his mother in Roxburgh Park in Melbourne’s north.

In 2009 Khayre was charged, along with four other men, with conspiring to do acts in preparation for or planning a terrorist act in relation to a plot to attack Holsworthy Army base in New South Wales.

He was alleged to have to travelled to Somalia in order to obtain a fatwa, or permission from a Muslim cleric, for the attack.

However, he and another man were acquitted.

The three others, Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, Saney Edow Aweys and Nayev el Sayed, were convicted and sentenced to 18 years each in prison.

In remarks after an unsuccessful appeal by the men convicted of the Holsworthy plot, the Victorian Court of Appeal noted that the defence in the original trial argued successfully that Khayre “regarded Australia favourably”, and that he did not have any apparent motive to plan a terrorist attack.

Khayre spent 16 months on remand in a high-security facility over the terrorism offences but was acquitted by a jury and released from custody two days before Christmas in 2010.

PHOTO: Khayre arrived in Australia with as a young boy (ABC News)

Drug user who stabbed a man during a robbery, did time for robbery

Despite his apparent commitment to jihad, Khayre was a known drug user and committed a number of armed burglaries, including stabbing a stranger while stealing his phone and a small amount of cash.

Fifteen months after his release over the terror offences, in April 2012, while armed with a flick knife and under the influence of ice, Khayre was disturbed by the occupants of a house he was robbing.

He punched two of the occupants of the home and head-butted and punched a third.

Khayre was eventually wrestled to the ground by a male resident of the house, a former Turkish police officer, who held him until police arrived.

After being arrested by police he was assessed as being under the influence of drugs.

After being given time to sober up he provided police with a false name.

Khayre pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to prison for five years and six months, with a non-parole period of three years.

In sentencing Khayre for the aggravated burglary, Judge Felicity Hampel questioned his commitment to reform himself.

“If you do not stop abusing drugs, you have limited prospects for rehabilitation,” Judge Hampel said.

“It would appear that each time you have been released from detention or custody, you have rapidly turned back to drug abuse, and nothing has been put to me to indicate that you demonstrate any will or commitment to address it.”

The court heard Khayre’s family and the Somali community had “washed their hands” of him.

In a chilling portent of what was to follow, Judge Hampel also warned of the risk that Khayre’s offending would leave him increasingly isolated.

“There is a real risk you will become even more isolated than you are now, institutionalised, and at increasingly high risk of re-offending,” she said.

His prospects of rehabilitation were described as gloomy. While serving his jail sentence, Khayre was charged with an arson offence.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said Khayre was complying with all of his parole obligations prior to yesterday’s shooting.

One line of inquiry is that Khayre was deliberately trying to lure counter-terror police to the apartment building in order to attack them.

Australia

Woman charged with supporting terrorism linked to terror cell that carried out attack in Kenya

Published

on

THE young Adelaide woman charged with supporting terrorism would be in a war zone right now as a member of Islamic State had she not been arrested, authorities claim.

Federal prosecutors have further claimed they hold “grave fears” that, if not kept in custody, the woman will “escalate” from supporting terrorism to carrying out a real-world attack.

On Friday, the Adelaide Magistrates Court agreed and refused to release the woman on bail, saying she posed “a real risk” of undertaking “politically motivated violence” if freed.

Documents sighted by The Advertiser outline the Australian Federal Police’s case against the student, who was arrested last month.

They assert the woman, whose identity is suppressed, became radicalised prior to an IS attack in Mombasa on September 11, 2016 and was “mentored” by its instigators — all of whom were women.

They further assert she swore allegiance to IS in October last year, frequented the group’s messageboards and downloaded its propaganda.

She allegedly tried to leave Adelaide for Turkey in June last year, on a one-way ticket, but was stopped at Adelaide Airport due to surveillance of her activities.

All of those activities, they allege, occurred without the knowledge of her family, friends or community who were kept in the dark by her “superior ability” to disguise her intentions.

In the documents, the AFP assert that incident did nothing to deter the woman’s activities as, just before her arrest, she was recorded in her home singing songs praising the group and its ideals.

“We hold grave concerns that her activities will escalate from online to an act of (terrorism) in the real world,” the papers assert.

“The only reason she is not now in IS territory as a member of IS is that police prevented her from travelling in June 2016.”

The woman, 22, of Somali origin, was arrested at her western suburbs TAFE campus last month and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years’ jail.

Federal and state police alleged she had been under surveillance since she sought to fly overseas in July last year.

They further alleged she “intentionally was a member” of an organisation, “namely Islamic State, knowing that organisation was a terrorist organisation”, between May 23 last year and May 23 this year.

Police denied her arrest was brought on by last month’s Manchester terror attack, saying her arrest had been planned for some time.

On Friday morning, prosecutors filed two affidavits and a summary of their case with the court, ahead of the woman’s application for release on home detention bail.

Those documents allege the woman came to the attention of the AFP sometime prior to her attempt to leave Australia on July 14 last year.

They allege she “concealed her plans” from her parents and “took her passport without her mother’s knowledge”.

It is further alleged that, prior to her attempted departure, the woman engaged in “group chats” with three other people on a website “bannered with the IS flag”.

Prosecutors allege the woman “used encryption and other surveillance-avoidance techniques to disguise her activities and planning”.

Those skills, it is alleged, were taught to her by a group of IS loyalists that included a woman named Maimuna Hussein.

“(The woman) was being tutored by IS terrorists in Kenya who carried out a serious attack in Mombasa on September 11, 2016,” the papers allege.

They allege the Mombasa incident involved Maimuna and others using knives and petrol bombs in a surprise attack, and that the terrorists died as a result of their actions.

“Maimuna has an almost identical background (to the woman),” the papers allege.

She had no criminal history, was studying medicine at university and had made a previous attempt to join IS in Kenya in June 2015.

Prosecutors allege that, in the wake of the attack, the Adelaide woman “obtained and recited an oath of allegiance to the leader of IS” in October 2016.

“(She also) accessed extreme and violent pro-IS material and expressed her support for ‘Arab’ fighters in the Middle East,” the papers allege.

It is alleged that, between May 3 and 18 this year, the woman was recorded singing pro-IS songs — called “nasheeds” — in her home.

Their titles allegedly include “We are Muslim coming for you”, “He walked by night alone travelling to the land of Jihad”, “Soldiers of Allah”, “My eyes are calling me” and “Ya Illahi” — meaning “my God”.

Prosecutors allege another nasheed sung by the woman, called “Ghuraba”, is of particular concern.

“It is analogous to their ideology of feeling strange in this life compared to the better life in the Hereafter, which they claim to strive for,” the papers allege.

On Friday afternoon, Craig Caldicott, for the woman, said her youth, lack of prior offending and the “weakness” of the prosecution case warranted releasing her on bail.

Much of the case, he said, seemed based on the equivalent of “talking to people on Facebook” but conceded she might have “a little angst toward the AFP”.

He said none of the allegations had been tested, and much material would have to be translated from Arabic, Somali and Swiss-German before its “true context” was known.

Mr Caldicott said similar cases interstate had resulted in offenders receiving good behaviour bonds, creating a risk the woman would serve more time waiting for trial than if convicted.

“What concerns me is the delay (until trial) will be quite long,” he said.

“The likelihood is any trial — and there will be a trial, my instructions are she’s not guilty — will be not next year, but the year after.”

He said the woman’s community — about 40 of whom filled the public gallery — would support her, with two willing to put up $5000 cash guarantees.

Anne Barnett, prosecuting, said the woman knew she was under watch and yet continued her behaviour, so was unlikely to be deterred by bail conditions.

“Most of this offending occurred in her home while she was being a recluse … despite their being here today in support, she has not been a member of this community,” she said.

“She has been isolated and undertaking these activities clandestinely in the confines of her bedroom, unknown to the community and to her own family.

“When she went to the airport, her family was unaware — they thought she was at university.”

Continue Reading

Australia

‘This is a lawless place’: Australia’s Somali community expresses concern for relatives in Libya

Published

on

Luke Waters

A Facebook video authenticated by the aid agency Amnesty International shows malnourished African captives – most of them thought to be Somalis – crammed into concrete cells.

Some are forced to contact family members and describe their unimaginable torture – other times it’s the captors, criminals who have seized control in lawless regions of Libya demanding money.

Aden Ibrahim, a leader in Melbourne’s Somali community, said the ransom is generally around US$8,000.

“This is a lawless place, so once the person has been called and if the person hasn’t paid the ransom money in time that person may be used as body parts, or worse maybe shot dead … basically mutilated,” Mr Ibrahim said.

Mr Ibrahim also has a confronting collection of photographs provided by Australian-based Somalis who have been contacted by captured relatives – or by the criminals themselves.
“They actually call you to tell you only few bones have been broken but the person’s still alive and if you don’t pay they’ll be finished,” he said.

But not even ransom payment guarantees release, and there is no single government for authorities to lobby in Libya.

Elaine Pearson is the director at the Sydney-based aid agency Human Rights Watch and says it’s time authorities and governments consider how they can intervene.

“There’s been a complete breakdown of law and order in the country. There’s no justice system to speak of so in that vacuum it’s allowed criminal groups to act with impunity,” Ms Pearson said.

Mr Ibrahim is urging all Australian Africans to warn relatives considering passage through Libya.

“They have to be a little bit more vigilant and instead of hearing their loved ones in a camp in Libya they should advise them before they go,” he said.

Continue Reading

Australia

Empowering African Australian Women in Melbourne

Published

on

SBS World News Radio — Getting more women into mentoring roles is seen as crucial to achieving harmony in migrant African communities.A new course is teaching them skills to take on key leadership to break down cultural barriers. As Gareth Boreham reports, the program has celebrated its first batch of graduates.

Hodon Ahmed has raised six children in Australia since coming here twelve years ago and the family is bursting with pride at her latest achievement.

The refugee from Somalia wants to be the first woman born there to become a Victorian police officer.

“It was my dream when I was sixteen, so I tried to learn when I was in year 12. So I didn’t have the opportunity to do it, I got married, I had kids. But now I like to join, to be one of them.”

The thirty-three-year-old is one of twenty-five people who have graduated from a specially-designed leadership course for migrant African women — run by R-M-I-T University’s Dr Nthati Rametse.

“It is very important because women themselves have been marginalised in society. And developing them to become leaders as they work in their own respective communities is important.”

It’s part of a City Of Melbourne project to help train students who may never have experienced such a formal education structure before.

Councillor Jackie Watts says it was a need identified by African communities themselves.

“They know, and we know, that if you can enhance the performance and participation of women in the sector, we all benefit. The City of Melbourne is committed to an inclusive community. The rhetoric is we’re a multicultural city, and it’s not just rhetoric, as far as we are concerned.”

Halima Mohamed hopes to use the leadership skills learnt to pass on some of the lessons from her own refugee experience, after coming to Australia fourteen years ago.

“Because what they have been through, I have been through too. So when they come I know their needs, I can understand how I can support them. And I feel everyone woman in our leadership group will get that point.”

It wasn’t your standard formal graduation ceremony — this one highlighting the arts and culture from the diverse African countries from where these women have come.

From celebrated Egyptian dancer Mohamed Ghareb to Zimbabwe-born rapper Simba Mack. The message of empowerment was loud and clear — and a message these graduates hope to take back to their communities

Continue Reading
Advertisement

TRENDING