A Sydney teenager has been charged with possessing terror documents, detailing how to make a improvised bomb and carry out a stabbing.
Police raided Sameh Bayda’s home in western Sydney on January 13, seizing three documents which allegedly contained written instructions, including from terrorist group al-Qa’ida, “connected with the preparation for a terrorist act”.
Also seized was his phone, which he had used to access Telegram, an encrypted messaging app used by ISIS to spread propaganda and communicate with other members.
Counter-terrorism investigators told a court hearing in Sydney yesterday that police were alerted of the 18-year-old’s activities over recent weeks, which had shifted towards those used by alleged extremists.
Police do not allege he was planning a specific attack or that he is directly connected to any known extremist group in Sydney, however court documents say he was “reckless” as to the connection of the images in the documents to terrorism.
While Telegram has been attempting to block the channels that ISIS uses to distribute propaganda, the terrorist group has figured out ways to outsmart the app.
“We were disturbed to learn that Telegram’s public channels were being used by ISIS to spread their propaganda,” Telegram’s founder Pavel Durov said in November last year. “As a result, this week alone we blocked 78 ISIS-related channels across 12 languages.”
In response to the threat on its network, the app created a “report” button to make it easier for users to flag channels that violate its policies.
On January 15, Durov tweeted that up to 10 ISIS channels were being banned a day.
Speaking of ISIS: over 660 public ISIS channels banned since November; 5-10 removed daily following reports to [email protected]
— Pavel Durov (@durov) January 15, 2016
Bayda did not appear during the court hearing. He was formally refused bail and will now appear in court next month.
He faces the prospect of up to 15 years in prison.
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