A NSW teenager faces life in prison after police allege he tried to travel to the Syrian conflict zone

Police conduct a raid in NSW, September, 2014. Picture: Getty Images

Two men have been arrested in NSW under suspicion of planning to travel to conflict zones in Syria and Iraq.

A 17-year-old man arrested at Merrylands will appear in court today where it will be alleged he “made preparations and attempted to travel to the conflict region” and “played an active role in encouraging another person to attempt travel to the region”.

The charges he faces carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Another 24-year-old Merrylands man is expected to be charged with “one count of incursions into foreign states with the intention of engaging in hostile activities”. The penalty for that crime can be up to 20 years imprisonment.

Members of the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team claim the older man travelled to Syria in July 2013 to join the group then-known as Jabhat al-Nusra, before returning to Australia in February 2014.

Jabhat al-Nusra was at that time allied with al-Qaeda, but has now broke away and formed a jihadist group fighting the Syrian government under the name Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

Police are also searching properties in the Sydney suburbs of Merrylands, Bass Hill, Horningsea Park and Miller as part of their inquiries.

“Police are aware of the threat that people who have travelled to Syria and Iraq can pose to the community – especially if they have been exposed to an extremist ideology and acquired knowledge and skills that could be used to facilitate activity here in Australia,” AFP assistant commissioner counter terrorism Neil Gaughan said.

NSW Police deputy commissioner Catherine Burn urged the community to “work together”.

“The first and most important starting point is the mums and dads, brothers and sisters, friends, work colleagues and neighbours,” Burn said.

“You will be the first to see a change in their behaviour, please let us know. These changes could be separating from their family, friends and their local community, or when someone demonstrates a significant move towards extreme beliefs and attitudes.

“They might begin to advocate or promote the use of violence to achieve an ideological, political or religious goal.

“Let us help you so you can help them.”

The National Security Hotline is 1800 123400.