A radicalized ISIS member had plans to target St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney and the US embassy for terror attacks and to “conquer” a rural city like Orange, a court has said.
Isaac El Matari also spoke of traveling to Afghanistan to fight on the front lines with the aim of supporting ISIS.
The 22-year-old, who was arrested in July 2019, was on trial in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday.
He pleaded guilty to committing an act of preparation and planning for an act of terrorism in Australia on behalf of IS between July 2018 and September 2019.
An Islamic State extremist (pictured right) received evidence before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, including phone calls explaining his planned “guerrilla attacks.”
He also admitted that he was preparing to enter Afghanistan through Pakistan with the intention of engaging in hostile activities.
And he admitted that he was a member of IS between January and September 2019.
Prosecutor Sophie Callan SC said El Matari left Australia when he was 18 but was arrested and imprisoned in Lebanon in 2017 for wanting to join the Islamic State in Syria.
But this did not stop him and after his return to Sydney in June 2018, the depth and extent of his radicalization continued until his arrest.
He was involved in a number of communications and other activities, including ‘practice speeches and instructions’, which reflected planning to carry out attacks in Australia on behalf of IS.
Isaac el Matari (pictured) told an employee in phone recordings that they would “kill every state politician in the middle of town”
Citing the agreed statement of fact, she said he discussed with others his plans, such as insurgency in rural Australia, referring to the landscape and people.
He cited specific targets, including the US Embassy, St Mary’s Cathedral and referred to “conquest of a small town or village,” mentioning Orange.
He also referred to ‘places of political importance, business, consulates, police stations, courts, the NSW library’.
They were places open to the public and “no security protecting them,” he said.
“The taking and killing of victims at the Holsworthy Barracks in Campbelltown will be international news,” he said.
Mr el Matari tried to join ISIS soldiers but spent nine months in a prison in Lebanon in 2017 (photo, ISIS supporters)
“I know what targets will scare people… and targets will get our message across.”
For months he carried out acts in preparation for a terror attack in Australia, including by obtaining firearms, explosives and tactical clothing.
His lawyer Matt Johnstone has filed that the so-called plan for insurgency in Australia was abandoned at an early stage.
But Ms Callan said conversations revealed that this was due to a lack of commitment from others, not his.
El Matari also spoke of traveling to the Afghan province of Khorasan via Pakistan to cooperate with ISIS in its armed hostile activities.
Upon his arrival in Australia, police began observing the man who planned to attack from a potential base in the Blue Mountains (pictured)
Mr Johnstone acknowledged that the group in that area, known as ISIS-KP, had an extreme ideology, while Ms Callan noted that they claimed responsibility for the deadly bomb at the Kabul airport days ago.
Johnstone said his client’s opinion of what he would do in Afghanistan was little more than “fight” and that there was no evidence that he was imagining this against coalition forces.
His intention to travel there was also related to “his wider devotion to his faith,” as opposed to someone going abroad to kill as a mercenary, he said.
Referring to a defense against El Matari making grandiose or misleading statements, Ms Callan said this did not undermine the sincerity of his intentions.
Mr Johnstone referred to his harsh prison conditions and the effect of COVID-19 lockdowns on inmates.
“There is remorse and a desire to change,” he said.
He also referred to El Matari who suffered from PTSD as a result of torture at the infamous Roumieh Prison in Lebanon.
Justice Peter Garling will convict him at a later date.
He was recording his own plans and in possession of IS music and violent propaganda including beheadings (stock image)