By Matt Siegel
SYDNEY, July 12 – An Australian court on Tuesday convicted Sydney man Hamdi Al Qudsi of recruiting six young men to travel overseas and fight alongside Daesh and Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria.
Al Qudsi, 42, was found guilty in a unanimous decision by the New South Wales state Supreme Court of aiding the men to fight with extremist groups in 2013, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.
The court, in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta, could not immediately be reached by Reuters for comment.
Prosecutors alleged that Al Qudsi made arrangements for the men to travel to Syria in 2013 for the purpose of fighting alongside groups listed by the Australian government as terrorist organisations.
Under tough new security powers passed in 2014, Australians face up to a decade in prison for overseas travel to areas declared off limits, which includes the province of Raqqa in Syria, a key strategic hub for Daesh militants.
Two of the men Al Qudsi recruited – Tyler Casey and Caner Temel – were killed in Syria, the ABC reported. Two other men, Muhammed Abdul-Karim Musleh and Mehmet Biber, have since returned, it said.
About 100 people have left Australia for Syria to fight alongside organizations such as Daesh. Australia’s Immigration Minister said earlier this year.
Australia, a staunch U.S. ally, has been on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown radicals since 2014 and authorities say they have thwarted a number of plots.
There have been several “lone wolf” assaults, including a 2014 cafe siege in Sydney that left two hostages and the gunman dead. Also in 2014, police shot dead a Melbourne teenager after he stabbed two counter-terrorism officers.
In 2015, a 15-year-old boy fired on an accountant at a police headquarters in a Sydney suburb and was then killed in a gunfight with police.