Sydney man 'more extreme than IS' jailed

Hannah Higgins

It wasn't the murder of innocent people or beheading videos that caused a Sydney man to "fall out" with Islamic State, but an argument over whether the terrorist group's views were "extreme" enough.

Amin Elmir will spend at least four years in jail after pleading guilty to preparing - between April and June 2016 - to travel from Turkey to Syria for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities for IS.

In the NSW Supreme Court at Parramatta on Friday, Elmir refused to stand for Justice David Davies as he was jailed for five years and five months, with a non-parole period of four years and one month.

Born and raised in Australia, Elmir travelled to Turkey following a disagreement with his family while they were returning from a religious pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the court heard.

Upon arrival in Istanbul, Elmir stayed in an IS safe house, obtained 70 kilograms of military equipment and sought assistance from others to help him cross the border into Syria, the agreed facts state.

However, his plans fell apart following a theological argument with others in the safe house.

Social media messages sent to a man in Australia at the time of the argument reveal Elmir believed Muslims should not excuse "unbelievers based on their perceived ignorance" - something others in the safe house disagreed with.

"What am I gonna do if this is Islamic State creed, it's apostasy," he said in one message.

"I can cross the border (at) dawn but what's the point ... the Islamic State is nice and all but I'm not (going there) to pretend to be Muslim."

Justice Davies described the argument as essentially coming down to the fact that "those at the safe house did not, as far as the offender was concerned, hold sufficiently extreme views against Muslims who were prepared to make allowance for non-believers".

After Elmir was kicked out of the safe house he was arrested by Turkish police and deported to Australia. He arrived home on July 1, 2016, and was arrested by police five months later.

He's been in custody ever since and has assaulted two corrective services officers during that time.

Despite Elmir telling the court "since falling out with" IS in Turkey he no longer supported the terrorist group and regretted his offending, Justice Davies was not satisfied he had changed his views.

One thing that weighed against Elmir was that when asked by a psychiatrist what he thought about "atrocities and terrorist attacks linked to IS" he said he didn't trust the Western media's reporting of such events.

"You never get the full story," he said.

Elmir will be eligible for release in late May 2021.