Woman jailed on terror charge 'low risk'

The lawyer for Zainab Abdirahman-Khalif (centre) said any ongoing risk she posed was low.
The lawyer for Zainab Abdirahman-Khalif (centre) said any ongoing risk she posed was low.

A South Australian woman convicted of taking steps to join terror group Islamic State has learnt a "very salutary lesson" after spending time in jail and almost two years under a strict control order, the Federal Court has been told.

In a hearing on Tuesday, counsel Dominic Agresta said any ongoing risk posed by Zainab Abdirahman-Khalif was low and any manifestation of that risk, such as relapsing and viewing extremist material online, was equally low.

The Australian Federal Police has applied to the court to extend an interim control order over the former student to restrict her movements along with her access to phones and the internet.

The AFP has argued that the order is still reasonably necessary to protect the public with Abdirahman-Khalif continuing to pose a "real risk".

But Mr Agresta said his client had never engaged in violence or made threats of violence and her activities, including her phone and internet use, could still be monitored by the AFP.

He said in one sense unless the control order was removed she would never be able to convince authorities she could resist viewing extremist material without a "threat hanging over her head".

"This is not a case where if Your Honour removed some or all of the orders, the Australian Federal Police would have no way of monitoring what the applicant was doing," Mr Agresta told Justice Anthony Besanko.

"There are plenty of powers at law.

"That's not an unreasonable proposition in this case given that the respondent has effectively been under a control order for coming up to two years.

"When she wasn't under a control order she's been in custody in circumstances where she has learnt a very salutary lesson from the conduct she engaged in."

But AFP counsel James Emmett said the court needed to take into account the cumulative impact of a significant number of disparate pieces of evidence, including material found on her phone, which painted a compelling picture.

"The weight of the evidence, when assessed cumulatively, is powerfully against the respondent and the court has only the respondent's untested words that she does not adhere to and did not adhere to those (extremist) views," he said.

The action against Abdirahman-Khalif comes after she served the majority of a three-year jail term.

An interim control order was subsequently imposed with authorities now seeking to establish a more permanent range of restrictions to remain for at least 12 months.

The interim order prevented her from leaving SA, limited her to using one mobile and one computer provided by the AFP and restricted what material she could access on the internet.

In 2018, Abdirahman-Khalif was found guilty in the SA Supreme Court over taking steps to become a member of IS.

Prosecutors alleged she had communicated with other members of the group and organised a trip to join IS before she was arrested.

She was first stopped by police at Adelaide Airport while trying to board a plane to Istanbul, Turkey, in July 2016.

She told officers she was taking a last-minute holiday, despite having a small amount of clothing, no return flight and less than $200 in funds.

When sentencing her, Justice David Peek said Abdirahman-Khalif had repeatedly expressed support for IS and jihad by playing chants about martyrdom, infidels, extreme violence, killing and death.

Justice Besanko is expected to hand down his decision on the ongoing control order next week.

Australian Associated Press