Australian woman found guilty of being a member of Islamic States

A 23-year-old Adelaide woman has been found guilty of being a member of Islamic State in South Australia’s Supreme Court.

Key points:

  • Adelaide woman found guilty of being a member of Islamic State
  • Zainab Abdirahman-Khalif was detained at Adelaide Airport in July, 2016
  • Following a three-week trial, it took the jury about three hours to reach the guilty verdict

Zainab Abdirahman-Khalif was detained at Adelaide Airport in July 2016 trying to board a plane to Turkey with just hand luggage and $170, but released without charge.

In May last year, she was again arrested and charged by Australian Federal Police with knowingly being a member of a terrorist organisation.

Following a three-week trial, it took the jury of five women and seven men about three hours to reach an unanimous verdict.

The court heard 378 audio files associated with IS were found on her phone, along with 125 videos from an IS media organisation, 62 of which contained extremist material including vision of buildings being blown up, captives being executed and dead bodies on the ground.

Abdirahman-Khalif was also in communication with three young African women who carried out a bombing in Mombasa, Kenya, in September 2016, for which IS later claimed responsibility.

The court heard she had been repeating oaths and singing songs connected to Islamic State in her bedroom.

But her defence lawyer, Bill Boucaut SC, told the jury the prosecution had not proven beyond reasonable doubt that his client ever planned to go to Syria to join the terrorist group.

Ms Abdirahman-Khalif lived with her mother and two brothers at Mansfield Park, in Adelaide’s north-west.

South Australian Supreme Court in Adelaide

She studied at the Islamic College of South Australia until 2011 and completed Year 12 at Roma Mitchell Secondary College.

In March 2016, she quit her diploma of science and technology at the University of South Australia, which she had been studying with the hope of becoming a nurse, and decided to “follow a different path”.

The court heard her family was “shocked” when they were told she had been detained because they thought she was at university.

Mr Boucaut, told the court Abdirahman-Khalif had no plans to join the terrorist group in Syria and was travelling to Istanbul with the hope of visiting a particular mosque and exploring aid work opportunities.

“It would not be the first time a young person has done something incredibly stupid and impulsive without their mum knowing,” he said last week.

The court heard she did not know how videos of beheadings got on her mobile phone but she did not believe beheadings and murders carried out by IS was “the appropriate way of Islam”.

Abdirahman-Khalif will be remanded in custody until sentencing, a sentencing date has not yet been set.

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