A Queensland Islamic bookstore owner has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail for sending money overseas to his brother fighting against the Assad regime in Syria.
Omar Succarieh, 33, last month pleaded guilty to four foreign incursion charges after the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions dropped more serious terror-related offences against him.
The Australian-born Succarieh, who has been in custody since he was arrested in a series of counter-terrorism raids in September 2014, was sentenced in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday.
He was given a non-parole period of three years, meaning he will be eligible for release in late 2017.
Justice Roslyn Atkinson said there was no suggestion Succarieh had encouraged or considered terrorist activity in Australia but his actions had damaged the social cohesion of the community.
“The Muslim community is harmed by your offences because of the fear of them that it might engender in people thinking that you represent the Muslim community, which you most certainly don’t,” Justice Atkinson said.
Succarieh’s younger brother, Ahmed, blew himself up in a suicide attack on September 11, 2013 in the Syrian city of Deir al-Zor after leaving Australia five months earlier.
In a statement to the court, Succarieh said as a young Muslim man he felt targeted by authorities, particularly after his brother’s death.
Covertly recorded conversations taken by Australian Federal Police captured Succarieh’s cryptic conversations with his other brother Abraham, who was in Syria fighting alongside terror group Jabhat al-Nusra.
The pair described cash and quantity in the terms of “sweets” and “kilos” to arrange for Succarieh to send Abraham a total of $US43,700 in early 2014.
Succarieh also gave $7700 to an Australian-born citizen of Albanian descent and Muslim Sunni faith to travel overseas in an alleged attempt to join the fight.
The court heard Succarieh’s faith drove him to help those trying to establish a state governed by Islamic law in Syria.
He also wanted to help his brother, who he believed was in a “life or death” situation.
“I will forever be known as the accused terrorist who owned the bookstore,” Succarieh said.
Justice Atinkson said Succarieh knew what he was doing was illegal because he had been warned by AFP about participating in overseas conflicts when they stopped him at Brisbane Airport on the way to a holiday in Lebanon in August 2013.
The father-of-three gave a thumbs up to his supporters in the back of the court as he was led from the dock.
In a statement read by his solicitor Andrew Anderson, Succarieh said he was relieved his sentencing was over and thanked his family for their support.