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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

SA Police and Australian Federal Police arrest SA woman and charge her with terrorism offence

SA Police and Australian Federal Police arrest SA woman and charge her with terrorism offence Meagan Dillon, Sean Fewster, Andrew Dowdell, The Advertiser an hour ago How terrorists’ online tactics are similar to paedophiles’ Security at Sheeran, Seinfeld shows under review Opinion: Distance cannot protect Australia from acts of terror A YOUNG South Australian woman accused of pledging allegiance to terrorist organisation Islamic State had been under police surveillance since she tried to leave the country last year. Ten months after Australian Federal Police first questioned her, the African-born 22-year-old student — whose identity is suppressed — was arrested at a western suburbs TAFE yesterday morning. The Advertiser can reveal the court file supporting the allegations comprises just a half-page of typed paper. Although the woman, who faces up to 10 years in jail, has been charged with knowingly and intentionally being a member of IS, it is understood she will claim she has been wrongly targeted. It is understood she has been charged due to her online interactions with people in Kenya, who she will claim are friends who are not connected with terrorism, but who authorities allege are IS members. On Tuesday her lawyer, Craig Caldicott, criticised the AFP’s approach to the case. He said his client was approached in July, briefed counsel in November but still had yet to be provided with any substantial allegations. Police officers arrest a woman charged with being a member of Islamic State. Picture: AFP The AFP arrest the women in Adelaide's western suburbs on Tuesday. Source: AFP “Clearly this has been a long investigation, but the AFP have had 10 months to pull this all together,” he said. “Yet they were unable to provide any paperwork (on Tuesday), and have claimed in court it’s going to take months to complete their investigations. “She intends to plead not guilty ... she is only 22, she’s shocked and she’s scared, and now she’s been remanded in custody.” The South Australian Joint Counter Terrorism Team started the investigation into the woman, who is an Australian citizen, in July last year when she tried to travel overseas. Her intended destination has not been revealed. Search warrants were executed on Tuesday morning at a property in Adelaide’s western suburbs and the woman was subsequently charged with being a member of the terror group. Family and friends at the western suburbs property declined to comment. The Muslim woman moved from Africa to Australia when she was aged 14. She faced the Adelaide Magistrates Court just before 4pm on Tuesday. She is charged with one count of knowingly being a member of a terrorist organisation. Court documents, viewed by The Advertiser allege she committed the offence between May 23 last year and May 23 this year. In court, Mr Caldicott, for the woman, said he had received “very little information” from prosecutors so far and so could not mount an application for bail. “I’m instructed she intends to plead not guilty to the charges,” he said. Geni Tanda, prosecuting, sought a suppression on the woman’s identity. The South Australian woman is taken to the Adelaide Magistrates Court from the watch-house by security officers. Picture: Greg Higgs “I’m instructed there are several witness statements from civilian witnesses still outstanding,” she said. “If those details are released or identified by the media, witnesses might be reluctant to provide statements to the police. Those statements will form part of the ultimate brief of evidence.” Magistrate Jayanthi McGrath suppressed the accused’s name, address and image and remanded her in custody until August. Authorities stressed the arrest was not linked to the terror attack in Manchester — which has killed at least 22 people and injured 59 — and that there was not an imminent threat in South Australia. They said the woman was not planning any attack. AFP Assistant Commissioner Counter Terrorism Ian McCartney said the arrest highlighted the global nature of terrorism. Play 0:00 / 1:38   Fullscreen Woman arrested with terrorism charges in SA Australian Federal Police arrest the woman before laying charges. Picture: AFP “We will allege in court that she cultivated relationships with Islamic State members,” he said. “We will also allege that she pledged her allegiance to the Islamic State. “The charges we have laid against this person are serious and significant and should not be underestimated.” He said the woman first emerged on police’s radar when she attempted to travel overseas in July last year and she had been monitored up until her arrest on Tuesday. SA Police Deputy Commissioner Linda Williams said the woman was charged with membership of IS, not with planning an attack. “There is no known ongoing threat to the community,” she said. She said if there had been any risk to the community, police would have acted differently. “South Australia Police will continue to work with our partner agencies to ensure the safety of the public, including those from a range of faiths, and I would remind the community that police will not tolerate acts of violence or threats targeting any specific group within our community,” she said. The Adelaide woman charged with terrorism offences enters the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Tuesday. Picture: Greg Higgs. “Our community should feel reassured that this investigation has been thorough and is being fully supported by all responsible agencies.” A neighbour of the charged woman told The Advertiser a large contingent of police had been at her western suburbs home from about 9am to 2pm on Tuesday. “There were a lot of police there most of the day, they were all in civilian clothes not uniforms,” he said. –– ADVERTISEMENT –– “I see them but I don’t know them, I have no idea what it was about. “They are quiet people, I don’t know, people come and go but these days you don’t know who you have as neighbours.” The neighbour was shocked to hear police had arrested the woman for terrorism-related offences. “I was suspecting they were here for drugs or something, but that makes my hair stand up, we have kids and a family,” he said. The SA woman is taken to the Adelaide Magistrates Court by security officers. Picture: Greg Higgs Another neighbour said they had noticed police next door throughout the day but had little previous interaction with the woman or anyone else who lived in the brick home. “I heard something on the news earlier, I saw cars everywhere but didn’t see anything until the police came back out,” he said. “I don’t know, I think it’s just a family in there but yeah, it’s a bit of a shock.” Last year, a western suburbs man, 51, was charged with advocating terrorism by filming demonstrations on how to kill Jewish people — becoming the first South Australian person to be charged with a terrorism-related offence. Last week, his lawyer successfully argued for his identity to remain a secret despite a magistrate revoking secrecy orders surrounding his identity after he formally denied the charges. He was ordered to stand trial at a later date and remanded in custody. Anyone with information about members of the community becoming radicalised is urged to call the National Security Hotline on 1800 123 400. Originally published as SA woman ‘intends to plead not guilty’ to terrorism

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