Mark Morri Crime Editor
The Daily Telegraph
August 12 2013
YOUNG Islamic extremists are committing crimes in Sydney to send money overseas to terrorist groups or to pay for their own trips to countries where they come in contact with extremists groups.
The head of the NSW Counter Terrorism Squad, Assistant Commissioner Peter Dein, said some of the proceeds of crimes had been funnelled into overseas terrorist organisations.
"It is well documented that in the past there has been a link between criminal activity and funding of terrorism," he said.
Assistant Commissioner Dein said he could not comment on individual cases but he conceded funds were, in some cases, finding "their way into the wrong hands".
The most pressing concern for the Counter Terrorism Squad and national intelligence services is young Australians being recruited and involved in terrorist camps overseas, especially in Syria, where it has been estimated more than 100 Australian dual nationals are suspected of fighting with the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria.
"We know there are people going overseas and getting involved with insurgents," Assistant Commissioner Dein said. "How do they get there, who pays for their airfares, for spending money? Also what are they doing there, who are they associated with and what are they bringing back or doing when they get back?"
He said the squad was investigating these cases, following the money trails and examining any links with organisations or individuals in Sydney or the rest of Australia.
He said there was "not a lot of proven cases" but "what is of concern is the unknown".
He would not comment on individual cases as investigations were ongoing. However, a known extreme radical was involved in a theft and was caught on listening devices saying he wanted his portion of the robbery to go to the "cause".
In another case, debt collector and businessman Vasko Boskovski _ who was gunned down outside his home in Earlwood _ was a co-director in a company with convicted Punchbowl terrorist Khaled Sharrouf, who was jailed in 2005 for plotting to blow up the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.
Assistant Commissioner Dein stressed the vast majority of money transfers going overseas were for valid reasons.
"But some of those funds do find their way into the wrong hands," he said.
But he said it was virtually impossible to estimate what percentage of the money was not for legitimate means.
Detectives have interviewed some of those who have returned from Syria and information is still being assessed.
"But it is only a small number because many have not returned," he said. "Obviously there are people we are concerned about and we keep a watch but it the unknown that is the biggest worry."
He said one of the biggest sources of information came from the Muslim community.
"They are vital to helping us keep abreast of what is happening in the community."
Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics command has just under 600 people at its disposal, including bomb response, rescue and negotiators.