Numerous wiretaps released in court have revealed how the alleged leader of a Sydney-based terror group used a code in the form of an ‘A-League football team’ to discuss alleged plans to send men in Syria to fight for the Islamic State.
Hamdi Alqudsi, 47, faced the NSW Supreme Court for the third day of his trial on Wednesday after being charged with intentionally directing a terrorist organization preparing to carry out a terrorist act.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Crown Prosecutor Patricia McDonald SC told the court that Alqudsi acted as the leader of an alleged terrorist group known as Shura, which means counseling in Arabic, between August and December 2014.
She told the court the group initially focused on organizing Australians to travel to Syria to fight the government there, but their activities were halted by police.
The Alqudsi-led group is said to have pivoted to planning domestic terror attacks against the Sydney naval base at Woolloomooloo wharf, the Israeli consulate and the Parramatta courthouse.
The prosecution relies on wiretaps and service data, much of which was released to the jury on Wednesday.
More than 40 phone calls were broadcast to the court involving Alqudsi and Shura men or men in Syria to discuss their plans.
In some of the phone calls, Alqudsi complained to another member of the Shura about the lack of respect he had, as a “commander”, from some of the “brothers”.
“Is that how you talk to me?” Is that how you disrespect me? I was very hurt, Allah does not take anyone who speaks rudely to his brother,” Alqudsi said in one of the phone calls.
In the wiretaps, the jury heard Alqudsi’s frustration when some of the men’s plans to travel to Syria via Turkey were canceled by police.
Several members had their passports canceled once they arrived at the airport.
The court heard how Alqudsi used code in the form of “A-League football matches” when discussing his plan to go to Syria.
“Football is a real club,” he said in one of the phone calls to the jury.
“You are an A-League player, football needs you, there is a place for you but I need to know your intentions.
“Are you taking the place?”
In another phone call, he told one of the Shura members that the “soccer game” was coming soon, meaning he was ready to send men to Syria.
“He’s off to the final…we’re just waiting for the result,” he said in the recording.
The jury heard wiretaps that recorded Shura’s contact in Syria, Mohammad Ali Baryalei, promising Alqudsi that he would help smuggle men from Turkey across the border into Syria.
Earlier in the trial, Ms McDonald told the jury that the Shura were allegedly given “the green light” to carry out terrorist activities in Australia by the Islamic State after their oath of allegiance was accepted.
The jury was told the group had met in person to discuss the attack on three Sydney landmarks, including the Garden Island naval base where they planned to kill navy personnel.
The court was told that the Shura also reportedly talked about targeting big events like the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, with assurances that someone would be sent from Syria to help them carry out the terror attacks.
Ms McDonald said a recording would be played of Ali Baryalei suggesting the group put the Islamic State flag atop the Sydney Harbor Bridge to pledge allegiance in a video to be posted online.
Mr Alqudsi’s lawyer, Michael Finnane, strongly denied his client was responsible for the Shura and told the jury he was an innocent man.
“Hamdi Alqudsi comes before you as an innocent man,” he said.
“He just says he didn’t.”
The trial continues before Judge Stephen Rothman.