Go to top of page

Suspects raised funds in preparation for acts of terrorism

Image of money and explosions

Funds associated with the financing of terrorism can be derived from legitimate sources, including the incomes of individuals or community donations, or through the proceeds of non-terrorism related crimes (including fraud or robbery). By using a diversity of funding sources, those planning acts of terrorism may attempt to distance themselves from the origin of the funds generated to finance those acts.

The following two related cases illustrate the challenge of identifying terrorism financing, given that it may model normal patterns of financial behaviour, be undertaken through low-value transactions, or not involve the financial sector at all.

Part A – Sydney

A joint investigation led to the arrest in November 2005 of nine Sydney suspects who authorities suspected were planning an act of terrorism in conjunction with thirteen Melbourne suspects. The group’s activities included military-style training and purchasing materials they planned to use to manufacture explosives.

The investigation revealed that the Sydney-based suspects relied mainly on their own incomes and efforts to fund their training activities and purchases, using their own bank accounts. Members of the group were caught shoplifting batteries, maps and electronic timers. Investigating officers also located stolen railway detonators during the execution of search warrants.

The Sydney suspects regularly used false names to register mobile phones when purchasing supplies and materials for their activities. For example, members of the group established companies in false names and used these companies to avoid suspicion when ordering and purchasing chemicals.

Four members of the Sydney group pleaded guilty to various terrorism offences, while the remaining five members were found guilty by a jury of conspiring to commit an act in preparation for a terrorist attack under the Criminal Code Act 1995.

Offence Terrorism
Customer Individual
Industry Banking (ADIs)
Report type SCTR
Channel Physical
Jurisdiction Domestic
Designated service Account and deposit-taking services
Indicators
  • Low-value payments undertaken through accounts and low-value cash withdrawals (below the AUD10,000 threshold)
  • Use of false identification to establish Australian companies

Part B – Melbourne

The same joint investigation also led to the arrest of thirteen Melbourne suspects who, in conjunction with the Sydney suspects, were planning an act of terrorism. The Melbourne group also undertook military-style training and purchased materials to manufacture explosives.

Investigations revealed that the Melbourne-based group funded their planned activities primarily through a series of small cash donations made by the group members to a central fund, known as the ‘sandooq’ (traditionally a box where all financial contributions were held). The majority of the Melbourne group were employed as electricians, tilers or panel beaters.

One individual was alleged to have been the treasurer and holder of the sandooq. Another group member approved group members to use funds from the sandooq. All members contributed to the sandooq, with some contributing AUD100 per month. The fund was worth approximately AUD19,000 at the time the group was arrested.

The suspects were also engaged in systematic credit card fraud, whereby they paid taxi drivers to provide them with the credit card numbers of unsuspecting taxi passengers. In addition, third parties provided the group with extra funds raised from a car re-birthing racket.

The group undertook the fundraising activities for the purpose of purchasing weapons and materials for a planned terrorist attack.

Nine members of the Melbourne group were found guilty of being members of a terrorist organisation. Four members were acquitted. Seven group members were also found guilty of committing acts in preparation for a terrorist attack under the Criminal Code Act 1995.

Offence Terrorism
Customer Individual
Industry Banking (ADIs)
Report type SCTR
Channel Physical
Jurisdiction Domestic
Designated service Account and deposit-taking services
Indicators
  • Multiple individuals contributing cash to a central fund (sandooq)
  • Frequent contributions made to the sandooq by members of the group and through proceeds of business activities
  • Individual members contributed up to AUD100 per month
Last modified: 30/07/2015 15:34