It looks like former Kings Cross bouncer Mohammad Ali Baryalei is the senior ISIS figure Prime Minister Tony Abbott was referring to today when he said “quite direct exhortations were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL”, which led to today’s anti-terror raids.
Omarjan Azari, 22, appeared in Sydney Central Court, charged with conspiring to commit a terrorist act, following this morning’s massive police raids in Sydney and Brisbane.
His arrest came about after a phone call was intercepted two days ago. Police allege he was conspiring with Baryalei, 33, to behead someone in public in Australia and police noted he had an “unusual level of fanaticism”, despite knowing he was under surveillance.
Baryalei featured prominently in last week’s announcement that Australia was raising its terror threat level to high, with Australian Federal Police confirming that a warrant for Baryalei’s arrest was issued several months ago, after he travelled to Syria in April 2013.
ABC TV’s 7.30 revealed last week that Baryalei, the son of Afghan royalty who came to Australia as refugees, has been a leading recruiter of the 60 Australians fighting in Syria and Iraq for Islamic State (IS).
He’s believed to be a senior operational figure in IS, and among his recruits is convicted terrorist Khaled Sharrouf, whose family had their Lakemba money transfer business shut down while authorities investigate links to terrorism funding. Sharrouf is also infamous for photographing his 7-year-old son holding a severed head.
Australians fighting for IS are certainly no strangers to beheading with Abu Yahya ash Shami, 40, rising to military commander with Islamic State after beheading four people in Northern Iraq.