Youssef Uweinat, from Riverwood in Sydney’s west, was arrested at his family home on Wednesday morning by counterterrorism police
A 21-year-old Sydney tradesman is accused of pledging allegiance to Islamic State and plotting terror attacks on home soil.
Youssef Uweinat, from Riverwood in the city’s west, was arrested at his family home on Wednesday morning by counter-terrorism police, who had been probing him for six months.
He has been charged with planning terrorist acts, advocating terrorism and being a member of a terrorist organisation.
Police allege Uweinat posted increasingly extremist material online and sought to convince others – particularly teenagers – to pledge allegiance to IS.
Hours before police swooped on his home, he shared war videos titled ‘Soldiers of the Caliphate’, according to The Australian.
The night before, Uweinat shared a quote to Instagram from extremist Anwar al-Awlaki, an Al-Qaeda figure who was killed by a drone strike in 2011.
The 21-year-old has been charged with preparing possible terrorist acts, advocating terrorism and being a member of a terrorist organisation
Uweinat also shared speeches by al-Awlaki and in July posted a picture of the figure with the text: ‘Let us not sit on the side-lines, let’s be part of that victory.’
In September, Uweinat posted a video about the ‘souls of 300 Muslims’ that were ‘taken’ in Baghouz in Syria – the last village held by IS.
‘While you spend the nights clubbing and drinking, trying to be cool in front of your mates, your brothers and sisters are spending their nights being burnt alive and being bombed,’ he captioned the video.
‘Where are the lions who will stand up and defend their religion?’
On his Facebook page, Uweinat claims he works for a plumbing business based in western Sydney.
Meanwhile on his Twitter account, which has been inactive since 2014, he boasted: ‘You f**k with me, you f**k with the best.’
Uweinat recently downloaded a document on how to use knives and other blunt instruments in a terrorist attack, police allege.
Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Ian McCartney said Uweinat’s activity was exclusively online.
‘We decided to act early because we needed to – we were concerned,’ Mr McCartney said on Wednesday.
Mr McCartney said authorities had relied upon 2018 cybersecurity legislation to access the man’s encrypted communications.
A terror attack in the United Kingdom last week – during which two people were fatally stabbed on London Bridge – was ‘not a key factor’ in Uweinat’s arrest but prompted authorities to keep a keen eye on the accused.
The accused (pictured during Wednesday’s arrest) also allegedly downloaded a document on how to use knives and other blunt instruments in a terrorist attack
Authorities say the 21-year-old was connected to others previously charged with terrorism offences in Australia. Mr McCartney said authorities had relied upon 2018 cybersecurity legislation to access the man’s encrypted communications
‘This activity is not connected to the London terrorist attack. But I think with that and this activity unfortunately this problem is not going away.
‘When there’s a terrorist act committed in another country that generates significant media attention we’re always concerned what impact that will have on people in Australia in terms of that radicalisation continuum.’
Additional arrests are not anticipated.
NSW Police Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton said the ‘message couldn’t be clearer’.
‘While there was no specific threat in relation to this individual, the alleged actions of this man were of significant concern to the NSW JCTT, and we have responded accordingly.’
The man has been refused bail to appear in the Parramatta Local Court on Thursday.
If found guilty he will face a lifetime sentence.
The man has been refused bail to appear in the Parramatta Local Court on Thursday. If found guilty he will face a lifetime sentence