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Australia Arrests Two Suspected of ISIS Financing - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Caption: A schoolgirl and a 20-year-old man were arrested by Australian police over suspicion of funding the Islamic State group. In this photo, police officers stand guard outside a house during a raid in the Guildford area of Sydney, Sept. 18, 2014. /SAEED KHAN/AFP

Caption: A schoolgirl and a 20-year-old man were arrested by Australian police over suspicion of funding the Islamic State group. In this photo, police officers stand guard outside a house during a raid in the Guildford area of Sydney, Sept. 18, 2014. /SAEED KHAN/AFP

Australian police said on Tuesday they had arrested a 16-year-old school girl and a 20-year-old man in Sydney on suspicion of raising funds to support operations of the ISIS militant group.

The arrests on Monday were reportedly part of counterterrorism operations aimed at thwarting attacks by domestic radicals at home and disrupting the flow of funds to foreign fighters overseas.

“We anticipate that both these people will be charged later today and attend court and the charge that we anticipate they will have is one of financing terrorism,” New South Wales state police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn told reporters.

“We will be alleging that they were involved in obtaining money to send offshore to assist the ISIS in its activities,” she said.

“The 16-year-old girl is not somebody who is well-known to us, however it is disturbing that we are continuing to see a trend of teenage children involved in activities that they should really not be involved in at all.”

Australia’s anti-money laundering agency said in November reports of suspected militant financing had tripled in the past year, with more than A$50 million ($38 million) that could be used to support militants being investigated.

The amounts being sent in this particular case were small and most likely used to help facilitate the travel of foreign fighters into Syria, an Australian Federal Police source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“They are doing it usually by credit cards or ATM cards – pretty easy. It’s not that much money. Some of it is a very small amount of money … sometimes less than $1,000,” he said.

According to the Australian government, more than 100 Australians are fighting alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria, while another 150 citizens are believed to be supporting the extremist group from within the country.

Australia, a devoted U.S. ally, has been on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown radicals since 2014 and authorities say they have thwarted a number of potential attacks, while there have been several “lone wolf” assaults.

ISIs raises the majority of its funding from oil, kidnapping and other illicit activities in far greater amounts than what is sent by individuals, said Greg Barton, a terrorism expert at Deakin University.

Arrests like those made this week were more valuable in identifying and arresting Australians who may be at risk of further radicalization than they in putting a dent in militant finances.

“It’s more this gives us the basis for figuring out the connection and it also gives us the basis for laying charges,” he told Reuters.

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said the latest arrests were not connected to any threat of an imminent attack.

In 2014, police shot dead a Melbourne teenager after he stabbed two counter-terrorism officers. Three months later, two hostages were killed when police stormed a Sydney cafe to end a siege by a lone gunman, who was also killed.

A 15-year-old boy fired on an accountant at police headquarters in a Sydney suburb last October and was then killed in a gunfight with police.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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