Aug 15, 2016

Brainwashed would-be foreign fighter Amin Mohamed now wants to help other

Jane Lee
The Age
August 15, 2016

Amin Mohamed, 25, says he was brainwashed and now wants to help other young Muslims.
A would-be foreign fighter found guilty of planning to travel to war-torn Syria says he was brainwashed by a "homewrecker" and now wants to help young Muslims at risk of being radicalised, a court has heard.

Amin Mohamed, 25, a New Zealand citizen originally from Somalia, faces up to 10 years' jail after a Supreme Court jury last year convicted him of three counts of preparing to enter a foreign state to engage in hostile activities.

The case against Mohamed relied on intercepted phone calls recorded by police between him and alleged Sydney-based recruiter Hamdi Al Qudsi.

Mohamed's barrister Julian McMahon told Victoria's Supreme Court on Monday his client was a reformed offender, who accepted he had been "brainwashed or radicalised" and wanted to help other vulnerable youths.

"[He] now understands that extremists do prey on young vulnerable people such as he was, and he wants to do what he can to assist people who are in the position that he found himself back at that time," Mr McMahon said.

He said Mohamed had also realised that Al-Qudsi was a "homewrecker", who was "sending young men to a danger zone".

Mr McMahon said his client had the rare support of a number of friends who were in court on Monday.

Mohamed was stopped at Brisbane's international airport in 2013 trying to board a Turkey-bound flight. He had claimed he was going to Denmark via Turkey to meet his fiancee, whom he had never met.

However, Crown prosecutor Lesley Taylor, QC, said Mohamed had shown no remorse.

She said none of the character references tendered to the court suggested Mohamed regretted trying to go to Syria to fight, only that he regretted trying to migrate to a Muslim country.

Ms Taylor said Justice Lex Lasry could consider sentencing principles that apply to terrorism offences, which carry a penalty of life imprisonment.

Mr McMahon strongly disagreed, saying Mohamed had engaged in different "class of offending", which involved "very early preparatory conduct" for non-specific activities in Syria.

This could not be seen as very serious, Mr McMahon said, given his client was freed at the airport and only charged months later, and that bail was not opposed at the time.

Justice Lasry said the word "radicalisation" was unfortunate.

"Radicalisation seems to be primarily the product of, among others, opportunistic politicians," he said.

He said radicalised youth were "indistinguishable from any other young person who for one reason or another - perhaps the consumption of drugs or whatever else - commits other crime."

The judge ordered Mohamed be returned to immigration detention until he is sentenced.

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