MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – A court refused bail on Monday for an Australian charged with providing money to a US citizen fighting alongside extremists in Syria.
Police arrested Hassan El Sabsabi on Sept 30 in a series of counterterror raids across Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, following an eight-month investigation prompted by information from the FBI.
He was charged in Melbourne Magistrates Court with seven counts of providing an unidentified American with $12,000 in 2014 to fund his travel to Turkey and then Syria. El Sabsabi faces a possible 25-year prison sentence if convicted.
Magistrate Lance Martin refused El Sabsabi’s application for bail, saying there was a significant risk of him committing another offense or fleeing Australia if released.
Prosecutors said El Sabsabi told police, “For me, it is not a crime.”
“I give this person money because I see him defending my innocent brothers and sisters,” prosecutors quoted him as telling police when he was arrested at his home.
Prosecutor Krista Breckweg told the court that telephone intercepts showed El Sabsabi, 23, expressed support for the Islamic State group.
Defense lawyer Rob Stary said El Sabsabi would contest the charges. He is to appear in court on Feb 3 for a preliminary hearing.
Since the government raised Australia’s terror warning level last month in response to the domestic threat posed by supporters of the Islamic State group, counterterror law enforcement teams have conducted dozens of raids and arrests.