An alleged Islamic State supporter arrested after downloading a guide to attacking people with knives and other weapons shared war-scene videos marked “Soldiers of the Khilafah” (caliphate) just hours before counter-terrorism police took him into custody.Source: Mark Schliebs and Elias Visontay, News Corp
Sydney terror arrest: jihad film posted as raids loomed
In Instagram stories posted the night before his arrest in western Sydney on Wednesday, Riverwood man Youssef Uweinat, 21, shared a quote from slain al-Qa’ida figure Anwar al-Awlaki. Police charged Mr Uweinat on Wednesday night over acts done in preparation for or planning terrorists acts, membership of a terrorist organisation, and advocating terrorism.
They will allege he was recruiting and radicalising teenagers as young as 17 to carry out terrorist acts. If found guilty of the charges, he will face a life sentence.
Police said they had been investigating Mr Uweinat for six months and that the raids were the result of what they viewed as an escalation in his radicalisation.
They also said he was connected with individuals arrested as part of previous terror raids, but would not provide details.
However, The Australian understands the man featured in investigations related to terror raids and the arrest of three ISIS-supporting men across western Sydney in July.
Mr Uweinat participated in the same series of videos that another person arrested in those raids appeared in. The creators of the videos began blocking access to several of them in the hours following his arrest.
On open social media accounts, he posted speeches by Awlaki and other radical clerics.
In September, he shared a video bearing the “Soldiers of the Khilafah” watermark about the “souls of 300 Muslims” that were “taken” in Baghouz, Syria, earlier this year. Baghouz was the last village to be held by Islamic State.
“While you spend the nights clubbing and drinking, trying to be cool infront (sic) of your mates, your brothers and sisters are spending there (sic) nights being burnt alive and being bombed,” he said in a caption below it. “Where are the lions who will stand up and defend their religion?”
In July, he shared an image of Awlaki that contained the text: “Let us not sit on the side-lines, let’s be part of that victory.” On Facebook, he claimed to work at a plumbing business.
Mr Uweinat, who is an Australian citizen, allegedly used several different encrypted messaging services to influence teenagers as young as 17.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney praised 2018 cyber-security laws that allowed police to intercept and view Mr Uweinat’s encrypted communications.
“There was no specific or immediate threat associated with this investigation, but the activities of this man were of a significant concern that we have responded,” he said.
“It’s fair to say there was a continuum in terms of radicalisation and we were getting concerned.”
At a joint AFP and NSW Police press conference on Wednesday, officers stressed the arrest was not directly related to a terrorist act in London last week, but that the risk associated with media attention on that attack had been a factor in making the arrest.
Raids were also carried out at two other properties, believed to be of the relatives Mr Uweinat’s.