A young Sydney man was ‘under the sway of others’ when he took thousands of dollars from two men he met at Parramatta Mosque and sent it to fund foreign fighters supporting Islamic State, a court has heard.
AAP noted, the man, who cannot be named, told a committal hearing for Ali Al-Talebi, 26, on Thursday he was under peer pressure when he accepted $A6000 and $US9000 from Al-Talebi and Omarjan Azari, 23, to send to support Islamic State foreign fighters.
“I was under the sway of others. Like an 18-year-old kid under peer pressure,” he told Sydney’s Central Local Court.
Al-Talebi is charged with two counts of supplying funds to a terrorist organisation, namely Islamic State, and one charge of attempting to send money.
Azari pleaded guilty to one charge on Wednesday after a deal struck between his defence team and commonwealth prosecutors.
The crown witness told the court he only had limited knowledge of the caliphate and Islamic State, not enough to draw his own conclusions but enough to listen to the views of his friends including Al-Talebi and Azari.
“I was never fully convinced by it. I didn’t have conviction in my heart,” he said.
He instead thought he was ‘upholding a favour’ when he accepted money handed to him in a pink plastic bag in an underground car park of the Parramatta Mosque by Azari, who was handed the money by Al-Talebi in August this year, the witness said.
According to SMH, the witness had alleged he was directed by the men to make two separate cash transfers of $3000 to bank accounts linked to IS via Western Union offices on August 6.
An alleged attempt to make the third payment of $US9000 ($13,000) in September did not go to plan when the man found out he would have to pay a large bank fee, the court has been told.
The man’s mother later found the cash in his shorts pocket while cleaning his bedroom.
“The money is to be used to help people from Pakistan into Syria as fighters,” Al-Talebi’s lawyer Peter O’Brien read to the witness, who agreed is what he was instructed.
He agreed he ‘did not have a gun to (his) head’ when he made the first two transfers while Azari watched and went alone to make the third unsuccessful transfer.
Mr O’Brien said the evidence of the witness was crucial to the Crown’s case.
“Without his evidence the Crown would not stand a chance of having this matter convicted,” he said.
“That is how crucial his evidence is.”
Mr O’Brien is expected to make submissions on Friday morning before Magistrate Peter Miszalski makes a decision on whether Al-Talebi will be committed to stand trial.