Five-Australians-face-terror-charges-after-planned-boat-trip-to-Syria. CAIRNS, Australia, Australian Authorities charged five men on terrorism related charges, suspected of leaving the country by boat to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State.
George Brandis, Australia’s attorney general, said the five men, ages 21 to 31, were charged with foreign incursion offenses which could result in a maximum sentence of life in prison.
“The primary focus of the investigation is [and] has been to prevent the crime of foreign incursion,” Brandis said. “That is the crime that is committed when people travel from Australia to participate in a civil war or terrorist war fighting overseas, as it will be alleged these five men were preparing to do.”
The suspects, including radical jihadist preacher Musa Cerantonio, had been under investigation for “a number of weeks” and had their passports suspended months ago due to suspicion of their intent to join a terrorist cause.
“There is a number of people in Australia under surveillance, and in the event that they were to attempt a terrorist crime, or to attempt to leave Australia in order to perpetrate terrorist war fighting overseas, then they would be taken into custody,” Brandis said.
Without passports or other travel documents authorities believe the group planned to use the 22-foot boat they purchased in Victoria to travel to Syria by way of Indonesia.
Australia has passed several laws meant to help prevent terrorism since raising its terror level to high in September 2014.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said while some members of the public would encourage authorities to allow the men to “take their chances in the waves,” authorities have a responsibility to prevent Australians from supporting terrorism anywhere.
“This is a serious attempt by five men, who are of security interest to us, who have had their passports canceled, in attempting to exit Australia, so that they can make their way through boat, and then ultimately, we are investigating the intention to possibly end up in Syria to fight,” he said.
By Daniel Uria