A former bookshop owner – whose brother is believed to be Australia’s first suicide bomber in Syria – has been quietly released from prison.
A former bookshop owner – whose brother is believed to be Australia’s first suicide bomber in Syria – has been quietly released from prison.

War financier out of jail, looking for work

A FORMER Islamic bookshop owner - whose brother was believed to be Australia's first suicide bomber in Syria - has been quietly released on parole after he was jailed for funding foreign fighters against the Assad regime.

Less than six years after being swept up in high-profile counter-terrorism raids in Brisbane's south, The Courier-Mail can reveal 37-year-old Omar Succarieh is free to live in the community again after being granted parole.

While in prison, Succarieh was granted day visits out of the high-security Wolston jail to see one of his four brothers, who was gravely ill. He also attended his funeral.

Succarieh was originally charged with terrorism financing offences, but these were dropped and he pleaded guilty to four foreign incursion offences, including giving cash to his brother Abraham and arranging for an associate to join the fighting in Syria.

Omar Succarieh being taken to the Brisbane Police Watchhouse in 2014. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled
Omar Succarieh being taken to the Brisbane Police Watchhouse in 2014. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled

 

From Queensland he sent $43,700 USD to his brother in 2014 to help aid the Syrian War effort.

Their other brother Ahmed is believed to be Australia's first suicide bomber in Syria in 2013.

Succarieh was sentenced to 4½ years in jail in 2016.

The Brisbane father of three was also found guilty of attempting to extort $50,000 from a cafe owner in a separate matter in 2017.

Succarieh was released from jail in January.

An artist’s impression of Omar Succarieh in court in 17.
An artist’s impression of Omar Succarieh in court in 17.

The Courier-Mail understands that before the COVID-19 restrictions were in place, Succarieh did not want to be out in public but was keen to get a job.

"He wants to get employed and that won't be an easy task with his profile," a person familiar with his case said.

Succarieh ran an Islamic book shop in Logan until his arrest in 2014.

Despite his past, Succarieh was apparently a model prisoner in jail.

While on remand in Arthur Gorrie jail, Succarieh cut other inmates' hair and said it might be something he could do for work on release, according to court documents.

Succarieh was also previously offered work at a relative's fruit shop, according to his bail documents.

His brother Ahmed is believed to be Australia's first suicide bomber after a truck filled with explosives killed 35 people at Deir Al Zor, Syria, on September 11, 2013.

Abraham flew out of Brisbane the day before his brother detonated the bomb. He supported militant Islamic groups including Jabhat Al-Nusra that sought to overthrow the Assad regime.

Authorities who had Succarieh under surveillance discovered he was sending money to Abraham and three other Australians to fight in the Syrian war.

"JN was an Al-Qaeda affiliated, militant-Islamist group, operating as an opposition force in Syria with the goal of establishing a state in Syria governed by Islamic law," the Crown said in its submission.

Succarieh used a second phone registered in a false name to talk to Abraham.

During the conversations he used code words and referred to money as "sweets" in amounts of weight, in one instance referring to $18,700 as "18 kilos 700 grams". As part of the offences, Succarieh facilitated the arrangements for the "safe passage" of another Queensland-based man to enter Syria where he intended to "engage in hostile activity" in 2014. He helped associate Agim Kruezi get $7700 to travel to Syria.

While on remand, Succarieh was seen by a psychiatrist.

"When asked if Ahmed had perhaps been killed by a suicide bomb, Omar smiled but didn't answer," a report from the psychiatrist noted.

In documents tendered to the court, Succarieh said he was deeply remorseful and regretted decisions he had made in relation to the foreign incursion offences

"I will forever be known as the accused terrorist who owned the bookstore," he wrote in 2016. "'A punishment within a punishment'."

Succarieh had believed he and other Muslims had a duty to fight against those who sought to oppress Muslims and had supported his brother and others in seeking to overthrow the Assad regime.

He said he had no intentions of reopening an Islamic centre or institution, or lecturing people on his religion.

Succarieh said he had sent the money to his brother because he had honestly believed he had none left and that it was a matter of "life and death".

"I accept the reality of my past actions means I might continue to come into contact with security agencies for the foreseeable future," he wrote.

 

TIMELINE

 

September 11, 2013

Ahmed Succarieh becomes what is believed to be Australia's first suicide bomber in Syria.

 

January-July 2014

Omar Succarieh gave money to brother Abraham who was in Syria. Facilitated arrangements for safe passage of another Queensland-based man to enter Syria where he intended to engage in "hostile activity".

 

September 2014

Omar Succarieh arrested in Queensland.

 

October 2016

Terrorism-related financing charges dropped. Pleads guilty to four charges including two counts of preparing for incursions into a foreign state and two counts of giving money for incursions into foreign state.

 

November 2016

Sentenced to 4½ years in prison over foreign incursion charges.

 

May 2017

Found guilty over $50,000 extortion of Brisbane cafe manager over disputed debts owed to a former business partner. Has two years and nine months added to sentence.

 

January 2020

Released from Wolston jail on parole.

Originally published as War financier out of jail, looking for work



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