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Australians charged with using relief funds for terrorist activities

Australians charged with using relief funds for terrorist activities

Two Australian men were arrested and charged yesterday with being members of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers and using 2004 Asian tsunami relief funds for terrorist activities, police said.
The two men will appeared in a Melbourne court later yesterday to formally face three "terrorism-related" charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 25 years jail, police said.
"It will be alleged in court that these men are members of an organization engaging in terrorist activity overseas and they have been providing active, material support to that group," said Australian Federal Police National Counter Terrorism Manager Frank Prendergast.
"We would be alleging that tsunami relief appeals were used as a vehicle for some of the fund-raising," Prendergast told a news conference in Melbourne.
"There is no evidence that these two men were planning to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia," he said.
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers have waged a two-decade long civil war aimed at securing an independent state for minority Tamils in the island nation. Rebels and the military are locked in near daily land and sea battles, ambushes and bombings that have killed hundreds of people in recent months.
Police said they would allege in court that the two Australian men, aged 32 and 36, raised funds with the knowledge some of the money would be diverted to the Tamil Tigers to conduct operations in Sri Lanka.
Both men have been charged with intentionally being a member of a terrorist organization, with providing support to a terrorist organization and with intentionally receiving funds from or making funds available to a terrorist organization.
Australia, a staunch U.S. ally, has never suffered a major peacetime attack on home soil, but tougher anti-terrorism laws were imposed after the September 11, 2001, hijacked airliner attacks on the United States.
Nineteen Australians already face terrorism charges.
A court on Monday committed nine men to stand trial on charges they were planning a terrorist attack in Sydney, Australia's largest city.
During the committal hearing, the prosecutor said the men had been in the possession of large quantities of chemicals and electronic timers which could be used to build explosive devices capable of killing and causing massive damage.
The men have been in a maximum security jail since 2005 when police and security agencies raided homes in Sydney and Melbourne, arresting a total of 18 men.


Updated : 2021-04-19 09:15 GMT+08:00