Parramatta Mosque gathering ‘talked of oath to Islamic State’

December 17, 2015 12:00AM

terror suspect omarjan azari
A court sketch of terror suspect Omarjan Azari.

A group of Sydney men discussed pledging allegiance to Islamic State inside the city’s Parramatta Mosque, including two who were subsequently charged with attempting to send thousands of dollars to the terrorist group.

One of those men, Omarjan Azari, yesterday pleaded guilty to the offence after a court heard ­he intended the money be used to help fund ­foreign fighters to join the conflict in Syria.

Others in the group included several who have been either ­arrested or had their homes ­raided by counter-terrorism police in the past two years, ­including after the shooting of NSW Police employee Curtis Cheng in October.

The group met at Parramatta Mosque, in Sydney’s west, and would often pray together on ­Friday evenings before walking to a nearby Westfield shopping ­centre food court to eat, a witness told Sydney’s Central Local Court yesterday.

The mosque has been forced into the spotlight in recent months after it emerged that the 15-year-old boy who killed Cheng, Farhad Jabar, was also a regular attendee.

The witness, who cannot be named, said he was at the mosque when Mr Azari and another man identified in court as Ibrahim said “they’d taken a personal oath of allegiance” to Islamic State.

“Was it common for people to be making personal oaths of ­allegiance to IS at the Parramatta Mosque? said Peter O’Brien, the lawyer representing Mr Azari’s co-accused, Ali al-Talebi.

“Depends which kind of people you’re asking,” the witness ­replied.

“I have heard things about people accepting caliphates in the past.”

The prosecution alleges Mr al-Talebi is the man identified as Ibrahim.

The witness said he was given the money — $6000 and $US9000 — by Mr Azari in the mosque’s car park in August last year.

He used commercial money exchange shops to transfer the Australian dollars to Pakistan, saying he was told by Mr Azari that it would be used to help fund the movement of fighters into Syria from that country.

When asked which side of the Syrian conflict he thought this money would be supporting, the witness replied: “I didn’t think very much of it at the time.”

The witness — who was 18 at the time, had recently completed high school with an HSC score in the 90s and described himself as being from a “good socio-economic background” — said he knew Mr Azari’s “religious views were in line with that of (Islamic State)”.

“You’d been told you were funding fighters into that war?” Mr Azari’s barrister Steven Bol­and asked the witness.

“That’s correct.”

“You know that IS were fighting in that war?”

“Yes,” the witness replied.

“An intelligent man like yourself must have known that funding fighters in a war through a Travelex in Lakemba was not legal activity?” Mr Boland asked.

“I didn’t think too much of it at the time,” he replied.

After he successfully transferred the Australian currency, the witness’ mother found the US dollars in the pocket of his cargo shorts while cleaning his room, the court heard.

The hearing continues.