Terror accused joined police service

THE brother of an Islamic State terrorist, now himself charged with terrorism offences, joined the Queensland Police Service in a major security breach.

Alaa Adam Atwani, 27, joined the police service in 2017 but failed to disclose his family connection to the terror group.

He is now charged with supplying video-editing software to a relative, understood to be his brother Samir Atwani, when he was working in Islamic State's "media unit".

Police allege the offence took place between October 25 and November 3, 2014, and he sent the Sony Vegas video-editing software to IS from Punchbowl in Sydney.

Atwani, charged with one count of attempting to provide support to a terrorist organisation, appeared in Richlands Magistrates Court before the matter was adjourned today.

He did not apply for bail and was remanded in custody until his next appearance on June 21.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 25 years' imprisonment.

Samir fled Australia for Syria to join IS in 2014, where he worked in the media unit which distributes propaganda for the terror group online.

He was the 2013 dux of Canterbury Boys High in southwest Sydney, a school attended by former prime minister John Howard.

He received a $2000 government prize while at the school.

He is described as having advance video editing and production skills.

Samir's family left NSW and relocated to Queensland before Adam tried to join Queensland police in 2017.

It is unclear how he passed through rigorous background checks before entering the recruitment phase.

However The Courier-Mail understands he lied - or did not inform them - about his brother when joining.

When confronted by authorities, including Commonwealth agencies, he was given a notice to show cause and resigned.
It's understood a further investigation of the incident led to the charge.

When asked if there were concerns he joined the service, a spokeswoman said QPS employed a point-in-time integrity vetting process which includes background checks and applicants disclosing wide-ranging relevant information.

"Failure to disclose relevant information may result in the termination of a recruit's contract," the spokesman said,.

 

The accused appeared in Richlands Magistrates Court today. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP
The accused appeared in Richlands Magistrates Court today. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

 

Australian Federal Police national manager (counterterrorism) Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney said police would allege the support the man provided "was tangible and would directly assist a terrorist organisation with its objectives".

There was no threat to the community in Queensland as a result of this investigation.

In Algester, in Brisbane's south, a neighbour of Atwani's said he had met the accused on a number of occasions in passing, and was shocked to learn of his arrest.

"Yes, I'm surprised," neighbour Darran Singh said of the arrest.

"It's a really peaceful and quiet area, so it's a little bit shocking to be honest."

Another neighbour, who would only identify himself as Baz, said he witnessed two carloads of detectives conduct a dawn arrest of Atwani.

"All I know was there were two carloads of them and that's when I went inside," Baz said.

"It was about 5am."

In nearby Woodridge, neighbours of Atwani's parents were shocked to learn of the charges, saying the unit complex was always quiet.



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