Sydney schoolgirl ‘knew cash was for IS’

A 16-year-old Sydney schoolgirl told police she did what notorious Islamic State fighter Ahmed Merhi told her and was in the process of wiring him thousands of dollars, a court has heard.


Prosecutors allege it wasn’t the first time she had sent IS money, having admitted to a police source she had sent $10,000 a month earlier.

A statement of facts canvassed in court alleges the teen had a conversation with a police source in which, when “asked if the money would go to Islamic State, she says ‘Yes, I just do what Ahmed tells me to do'”.

The schoolgirl, who cannot be named, was arrested on Tuesday when counter-terrorism investigators swooped on her Guildford home and charged her with collecting funds bound for the terrorist organisation.

On Wednesday, members of her family packed into Parramatta Children’s Court to watch on as she made a bid to be released on bail.

The teenager, whose social media pages are littered with heavily made-up selfies, sat hunched over in the court’s small dock wearing sneakers and an ankle-length navy jilbab that left only her face uncovered.

The child had spent the previous night behind bars with only a TV for company, her lawyer said.

Prosecutors allege the teenager was in direct contact with Merhi and that she had agreed to facilitate a Western Union transfer of $5000 earmarked for him.

Defence barrister Michael Pickin told the court the Crown case against the girl could hinge on a single conversation with an “agent provocateur” or “police informant”, and has argued the conversation may amount to entrapment.

But prosecutors allege the mooted $5000 transfer was not the first in which the teenager was involved.

She is said to have admitted in another conversation with the police source – who apparently ingratiated himself with the teenager’s circle of associates by pretending to have a sister who wanted to travel to the Middle East – that “they had previously sent $10,000 a month ago”.

“The young person indicated that she sent some money to Syria via Lebanon, and that she knew the money would go to Islamic State, that Merhi (was known to her), and it was agreed that she would take delivery of the $5000 with a view to … facilitating the sending of that money overseas,” commonwealth prosecutor Imad Abdul-Karim told the court.

The court heard she could not make the transfer herself because she was under age but had a contact who could put it through on her behalf.

It’s alleged the money was handed to the girl by 20-year-old Milad Atai on Merhi’s instructions.

Atai was also arrested on Tuesday and is before the courts.

It’s further alleged police found a stolen car at the girl’s home, and that inside the car were handcuffs, a Taser-type stun device, and a ballistics vest.

Though there is no suggestion the girl had anything to do with these items, Mr Abdul-Karim said the prospect of her being released to an address with possible links to other criminal activity was of concern.

But Mr Pickin argued it was not in the public interest to allow the girl to be pulled from school and languish in custody while she awaited trial.

He described the girl as a third-generation Australian who had lived all her life in Sydney’s western suburbs and was in her final year of high school, where she is months away from sitting HSC exams.

The barrister said there was no evidence his client had any history of radicalisation.

The magistrate is expected to hand down her decision on Thursday.