A Kiwi accused of obtaining a New Zealand passport to fight in Syria will stand trial in Melbourne.
Amin Mohamed, 23, is charged with four counts of preparing to enter a foreign state to engage in hostile activities.
Prosecutors in Australia allege he booked a flight to Turkey and made plans to travel from there to Syria in September last year to fight in its civil war.
Mohamed has pleaded not guilty to all charges in the Melbourne Magistrates Court and appear in the Supreme Court tomorrow for a directions hearing.
He was bailed to a Melbourne detention centre.
The court was told Mohamed, a New Zealand citizen, was connected to an extremist criminal syndicate alleged to have been recruiting Australians to fight with jihadists in Syria.
Mohamed is accused of obtaining contact details of a Turkish man to facilitate his travel to Syria from Sydney-based Hamdi Al Qudsi, the 39-year-old alleged ringleader of a criminal syndicate recruiting people to fight against the Assad regime.
Al Qudsi was charged with seven offences last December, including being a conduit for people leaving Australia to fight in armed hostilities against the Syrian government.
Commonwealth prosecutor Andrew Doyle told the court Mohamed was originally charged in Sydney as part of a bigger operation, but the crimes allegedly occurred in Victoria.
He was charged by the Australian Federal Police with four counts of preparing to enter a foreign state with intent to engage in hostile activity under the Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment Act) 1978.
Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.
Mohamed’s family told the Herald on Sunday in October they were in the dark about his alleged extremism.
Mahad Warsame, a family friend and president of the Somali Community Association, said he had denied he wanted to travel to Syria.
“When the family spoke to him he said that he wasn’t going to Syria,” said Warsame.
“The family have no idea what happened to him. Most of the time he lived with his mother in Melbourne, then he left for Sydney and was away for a month or two.
“The next thing they hear he’s been arrested in Brisbane.”
Warsame said Mohamed’s family and friends were in shock over the claims and described him as a “funny and loving young man”.
Mohamed moved to New Zealand in 1998 as a refugee with his mother and four sisters after his father was killed in the Somali civil war.
“They are a very good family. The mother was a very strong woman,” said Warsame.
He is profiled in the Somali Graduate Profile Journal as having attended Auckland’s Lynfield College.
It also claims he graduated from AUT University in 2012 with a degree in business.
However, AUT University spokeswoman Aimee O’Driscoll said there was no record of Mohamed graduating and it was unclear whether he ever registered as a student.
He moved to Australia in late 2012 and a year later he is alleged to have obtained a new passport and registered a mobile phone in a false name as part of his efforts.