An Adelaide woman who was acquitted of being a member of Islamic State believed she had an “influence” over the timing of a terror attack at a Kenyan police station in 2016, the Federal Court has heard. Zainab Abdirahman-Khalif, 25, spent two years and six months in jail after a South Australian Supreme Court jury found her guilty of being a member of a terrorist organisation.
Adelaide woman acquitted of IS membership had ‘advanced notice’ of Kenya attack, court told
However, she was freed on appeal in October 2019.
Commonwealth prosecutors have asked the High Court to overturn her acquittal, but the hearing has been delayed because of the coronavirus health pandemic.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is seeking to use powers under the Anti-Terrorism Act to control parts of Ms Abdirahman-Khalif’s life in a bid to prevent a potential terror attack.
She has been subjected to an interim control order for the past six months which has limited her social media use, movements and employment.
It also bans her from contacting anyone in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
Andrew Berger, for the AFP, today told the Federal Court that it was “difficult” to monitor someone in the community.
“There are terrorist attacks overseas where a person has been followed by armed police officers who have killed the offender within a very short period after their attack,” he said.
“But nevertheless, the attack has occurred and there has been loss of life. One could imagine the resources involved in following somebody on a frequent basis.”
He said a control order would help authorities limit others with extremist views from influencing her to commit a terror attack or fuelling her own ideologies because she was “naive”.
Mr Berger said Ms Abdirahman-Khalif was in contact with 22-year-old Maimuna Abdirahman Hussein in the lead-up to her failed terror attack in Mombasa, Kenya, on September 11, 2016.
Hussein and two other women entered the Mombasa Central Police Station armed with a knife, a petrol bomb and a suicide vest but were shot dead by police.
Two officers were injured.
“Rather than treating the deaths of these three women as a reason to step away from that — Ms Abdirahman-Khalif seemed to double-down on her ideology,” Mr Berger said.
He said she had “advanced notice” that Hussein would carry out the attack and did nothing to dissuade her.
“She perceived herself to have some influence over [the attack’s] timing,” he said.
Correspondence allowed as evidence
The court was told that Joel Clavell — the son of notorious fugitive Rodney Clavell, who was shot dead by police during a siege — sent Ms Abdirahman-Khalif a money order while she was in custody.
Scott Henchcliffe SC, for Ms Abdirahman-Khalif, said the money was unsolicited and Joel Clavell sought out his client because he held views against Shia Muslims and democracy.
Clavell was shot by police in Victoria in June 2019.
Mr Henchcliffe objected to the correspondence between his client and Joel Clavell being included in the AFP’s application for a control order.
“It’s a very long stretch to find this to be of any relevance for this matter,” Mr Henchcliffe said.
But Justice Natalie Charlesworth allowed it to be admitted as evidence.
Mr Henchcliffe is yet to make submissions in relation to the control order application.
During her 2018 trial, the Supreme Court was told that Ms Abdirahman-Khalif was detained at Adelaide Airport in July 2016 after buying a one-way ticket to Turkey, and that she planned to travel with $180.
She was released from custody the following day and about 10 months later was charged with knowingly being a member of a terrorist organisation.
The court heard 378 audio files associated with IS were found on her phone, along with 125 videos — 62 of which contained extremist material including bombings, executions and dead bodies on the ground.
Justice David Peek sentenced her to three years in jail with a non-parole period of two years and three months. Her former sentence would have expired last month