Sydney man Hamdi Alqudsi has been sentenced to a minimum of six years’ jail for helping young Australians travel to Syria to fight in the country’s civil war.
Alqudsi, 42, was convicted of helping the men to fight with extremist jihadist groups in 2013, including the forerunners of Islamic State (IS).
In handing down her sentence Justice Christine Adamson said she would consider the importance of punishing Alqudsi for his crimes, deterring others from offending in the same manner, and the need to maintain public confidence in the justice system.
“I regard the seriousness of the offending to be moderately high,” she said.
She said she accepted the prosecution’s description of the offender as the “centre of a wheel to which the other men and Mr Baryalei were the spokes”.
Justice Adamson explained how the offender had not cooperated with police during their investigation and she rejected his claim he did not know his actions were illegal.
Alqudsi ‘much-loved’ stepfather of seven children
However, she also spoke of Alqudsi’s personal circumstances.
She mentioned Alqudsi’s inability to have children for medical reasons, and how he fulfilled the role of a “much-loved” and “devoted” stepfather of the seven children of his wife, Carnita Matthews.
Justice Adamson also mentioned how Alqudsi has been the primary carer for his mother, who has leukaemia, and younger brother who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
But she noted other family members were in a position to step into Alqudsi’s role as a carer.
Alqudsi’s wife, who was in court during his appearance and was wearing a niqab and floor-length black veil, is known for her run-in with police, when she refused to remove her face covering during a breath test.
After Alqudsi was sentenced this morning, his family called out “Allahu akbar” in the courtroom and he responded, “I’ll call you, man.”
His last words as he left the room escorted by officers were “Salam”, which means peace in Arabic.
Ms Matthews was visibly upset after the sentencing and hugged those around her.
Alqudsi was found guilty in July of seven counts of supporting engagement in armed hostilities in Syria.
He was accused of working with senior Australian IS fighter Mohammad Ali Baryalei to help seven young men to travel to Syria.
It was alleged Alqudsi made arrangements for the men to travel to the war-torn country between June and October 2013, so they could fight alongside militant groups such as the Al-Nusra front (Jabaht al-Nusra), IS and Al Qaeda affiliates.
Two of the men he recruited — Tyler Casey and Caner Temel — were killed in Syria, while two other men — Muhammed Abdul-Karim Musleh (also known as Abu Hassan) and Mehmet Biber — have since returned.
Amin Mohamed never left Australia and in the Victorian Supreme Court last year, the Melbourne man was found guilty of three charges relating to plans to travel to Syria to fight against the Government of Bashar al-Assad.
The fate of the other two men Alqudsi assisted — Abu Alim and Nassim Elbahsa — is not known.
Alqudsi will be eligible for release on 11 July 2022.