ABC.au
Wednesday April 17, 2019
By Candice Prosser


Zainab Abdirahman-Khalif was convicted of knowingly being a member of a terrorist organisation.SUPPLIED

An Adelaide woman convicted of being a member of
Islamic State (IS) has been sentenced to three years in jail, but with
time already served will be eligible to apply for parole in August.

Zainab Abdirahman-Khalif, 24, was found guilty of being
a member of a terrorist organisation after a trial in the South
Australian Supreme Court last year.

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She was
detained at Adelaide Airport in July 2016 trying to board a plane to
Turkey with just hand luggage and $180, but released without charge.

In
May 2017, she was again arrested and charged by Australian Federal
Police with “knowingly being a member of a terrorist organisation”.

During
a three-week trial, the court heard the former student had pledged
allegiance to IS and had been communicating online with young female
members of the terrorist organisation.

The jury was told that 378
audio files associated with IS were found on her phone, along with 125
videos from an IS media organisation, 62 of which contained extremist
material including vision of buildings being blown up, captives being
executed and bodies on the ground.

The court also heard
Abdirahman-Khalif lived in refugee camps in Kenya until she was 14 years
old and moved to Australia with her family, who are of Somalian origin,
in 2009.

Justice David Peek imposed a non-parole period of two
years and three months, backdated to May 2017 when she was taken into
custody.

Judge rejects several defence claims

During his
lengthy sentencing remarks, Justice Peek repeatedly emphasised that
Abdirahman-Khalif had not been accused or convicted of having any
involvement in carrying out or planning terrorist acts.

“I find
that you were convicted on the basis of your taking of steps to become a
member of Islamic State, rather than on a more serious basis of being
positively involved in performing violent acts of terrorism or having an
intention to do so,” he said.

“You are to be sentenced on that lesser basis.”

Justice
Peek rejected the young woman’s claim that her attempt to travel to
Turkey on a one-way ticket in July 2016 was a “last minute decision to
go on an innocent holiday”.

The 24-year-old woman was found guilty in South Australia’s Supreme Court last year. (Gary Rivett: ABC News)

He also rejected her claim that she had no involvement in downloading
hundreds of files associated with IS, including graphic videos of
beheadings which were found on her phone.

“While you did not give
evidence at trial, it appears that you instructed counsel to contend on
your behalf that much of the material found in your possession came to
be there without your knowledge of their contents,” Justice Peek said.

“These arguments were both weak and disingenuous and I reject them.”

Justice
Peek said Abdirahman-Khalif displayed “no contrition whatsoever” and
had continued communicating online with young female members of IS who
later carried out a terrorist act in Mombasa, Kenya in September 2016.

“Someone
who had merely been curious about, or flirting with IS, would have
taken the various police actions of questioning, detaining,
interrogating, arresting, searching luggage and so on as a salutary
warning to cease any contact with IS,” he said.

“However you
completely ignored that warning. Within eight minutes of having your
phone returned by police you were in communication with one of the
Mombasa group and thereafter you continued to be in regular
communication with them.”

Abdirahman-Khalif ‘radicalised’

Justice Peek found that Abdirahman-Khalif, who was aged just 20 and 21 at the time of the offending, had been radicalised.

“I
find it to be established that during the relevant period you
positively held extremist jihadist and Islamic State views in line with
that propaganda,” Justice Peek said.

“The
depth and extent of your radicalisation was substantial and was
sufficient to drive you to attempt to emigrate to the caliphate.

“However,
it is important to note that it is not suggested that you advocated
extremist views or published extremist material to the public.”

Justice Peek said Abdirahman-Khalif’s childhood years spent in refugee camps had understandably affected her mental state.

“During
those 14 long years you had little to turn to except your religion and I
consider that, as is understandable, you became both obsessive about
religious matters and predisposed to the influence of extremist
religious propaganda,” he said.

Justice Peek said it was important
to deter “other members of the public who might be seduced by skilful
propaganda of the type generated by IS”.

The court heard the prosecution could make an application for a continuing detention order.

Abdirahman-Khalif has already lodged an appeal against her conviction.

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