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Australian terror suspects sent funds to Somalia to support terrorist group

Image of money and explosions

A joint-agency investigation led to the arrest of five suspects on charges of conspiring to commit a terrorist attack on an Australian army base. Investigations revealed the group had sent funds destined for use by the Somalia-based terrorist group, al-Shabaab. The group had also facilitated travel for Australian-based supporters to attend overseas military training camps. Funds remitted offshore by the suspects did not go directly to al-Shabaab but to entities linked to al-Shabaab’s activities in Somalia.

Investigating officers, assisted by AUSTRAC information, discovered that the suspects had sent thousands of dollars in low-value IFTIs to Somalia. Authorities suspected these IFTIs were to support the aims of al-Shabaab and associated military training activities overseas.

The suspects sent the funds via remittance service businesses, often using false names for the overseas beneficiary customer to obscure the money trail. However, the telephone numbers recorded in the IFTIs for the overseas customers were correct. Investigating officers concluded that the suspects used the customers’ correct phone numbers to ensure the funds arrived safely and were handed to the correct customer in Somalia. In this case, the information reported in the IFTIs was valuable intelligence for the investigation officers to use to corroborate other information or consider leads in the investigation.

In general, the group members paid for the remittances to Somalia using their own funds. The group also remitted funds that had been raised by Australian-based social and community fundraising groups – a common terrorism-financing method internationally. There was no evidence to suggest that members of the social and community groups involved were aware that the funds being raised were to be remitted to East Africa in support of al-Shabaab.

Three suspects were found guilty of conspiring to plan an Australian-based terrorist attack and sentenced to 18 years jail to serve 13 years and six months. Two of the suspects were found not guilty.

Case 21 – Australian terror suspects sent funds to Somalia to support terrorist group

Case 21 – Australian terror suspects sent funds to Somalia to support terrorist group

Offence

Conspiring to plan a terrorist attack

Customer

Individual

Industry

Remittance services

Channel

Physical

Report type

IFTI

Jurisdiction

Domestic

International – Somalia

Designated service

Remittance services (money transfers)

Indicators

  • Low-value international funds transfers to a high-risk jurisdiction
  • Use of false identification when sending funds offshore
Last modified: 30/07/2015 15:34