Terror supporter who had beheading videos on phone walks free because judge says he's of 'good character despite his crime'
A young Australian who was stopped at Sydney airport when he was trying to fly to Syria to join the Islamic State has walked free from jail after being handed a five-year good behavior bond. Moudasser Taleb, 24, was arrested at the airport on June 15, 2017, with a bag of military-style clothing but no plane ticket and little money.
A jury ruled in April that Taleb was guilty of preparing to travel to Syria to engage in hostile activities. Meanwhile, the defense argued that Taleb had no intention of engaging in warfare or was mentally unfit at the time, Daily Mail reports.
The budding ISIS fighter, who was 22 years old at the time, told police he was a tourist and not a terrorist. Investigators later found videos of beheadings, people with ISIS flags and battlefields on his phone.
When he previously appeared at a court in April, he was seen giving the one-fingered ISIS salute through his handcuffs while draped in an orange prison jumpsuit and dark green velcro sneakers.
According to NSW Supreme Court Justice Peter Hamill, the time Taleb had spent in custody was adequate for his crime. The judge told a court on Friday that Taleb was of good character despite his crime. He was found to suffer from schizophrenia after he was put behind bars.
Referring to the diagnosis after Taleb's arrest, Justice Hamill accepted that "his mental illness had a significant impact on his moral culpability." He added that his decision to place Taleb on a good behavior would be criticized by public commentators "who think no sentence is ever long enough."
Nonetheless, he said the facts before him called for a sentence that would offer a chance of rehabilitation to "the young, mentally ill and vulnerable offender."
According to Justice Hamill, while Taleb knew what he was doing was illegal, he wouldn't have proceeded to the airport without the "quite appropriate" intervention and encouragement of an undercover cop.
Reports said Taleb’s interest in Islam became intense after a stint in hospital in 2014. He had already developed an interest in joining the IS before undercover police made contact with him in March 2017. At the advice of the undercover operative, Taleb bought military clothing, a sleeping bag, tactical gloves and a solar power charge. He tried preparing himself by walking long distances with a backpack and tried to send $300 to someone he thought was in Syria.