Man admits terrorism offences, carrying rifle in Syria
A Queensland man carried an assault rifle in "extremely vicious" battles in Syria after being motivated by online images, a court has been told.
Foot soldier Agim Ajazi has admitted engaging in hostile activities in a foreign country, an offence carrying a maximum sentence of life behind bars, and advocating terrorism.
The now 34-year-old was not a member of a terrorist organisation, but admitted taking part in efforts to overthrow the Syrian government, pleading guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to three offences, including two terrorism charges.
Ajazi left Australia in July 2013, establishing a base in Turkey from which he crossed the border into Syria the following year, prosecutor Ben Power said in sentencing submissions on Thursday.
He was an infantry soldier who fired AK assault rifles towards fighters on the edges of serious battles, some of which resulted in hundreds of casualties.
"His intention and the intention of those forces he was fighting with was to overthrow the Syrian government by force and establish a state governed by sharia law," Mr Power said.
His efforts were in support of terrorist organisations, although he was not a member of any.
The battles were brutal. Prisoners were taken and some executed, the court was told.
Ajazi is not accused of inflicting harm on prisoners, but from his social media posts it was evident the battles were "extremely vicious", Mr Power said.
The foot soldier advocated for Americans to kill Russians in posts designed to force Russia to withdraw from its intervention into Syria.
"It's relevant to his state of mind that he continued fighting with such forces after such things had occurred and spoke positively about them," Mr Power said.
Defence barrister Glen Rice said Ajazi was born to Muslim parents and estranged from his father since he was eight.
His radicalisation started at work, but Ajazi was only motivated to act at the start of the Syrian conflict.
"He was particularly motivated by images which were available on the internet of the kind of treatment that that regime dealt its citizens," Mr Rice said.
Ajazi was in custody in Turkey for a year before Australian authorities brought him via South Australia to Queensland, where he has been on remand since December 2019, mostly segregated from other prisoners due to the charges he faced.
Mr Rice said his client has been a model prisoner who was polite and respectful and no longer has extremist views.
Justice Susan Brown reserved her decision, saying the court had to consider the objective seriousness of Ajazi's conduct in Syria and the significant steps taken by him since his return to Australia.