“Sharrouf’s disappearance, a signifcant embarrassment to border security agencies, was also hushed up by authorities with this newspaper blocked from accessing basic public documents about the case against him.”
A convicted terrorist has exposed security gaps at Sydney airport after boarding a flight to Syria on his brother’s passport
- It is believed Khaled Sharrouf is now in Syria
- He used his brother’s passport to leave Australia
- He fled despite being on airport watchlists and being under 24hr surveillance
- Sharrouf is one of the “terror nine” arrested in 2005
A CONVICTED terrorist used his brother’s passport to fool Customs officers and board a flight for Syria, exposing grave security gaps at Sydney international airport.
Despite not having a passport in his name, being on airport watchlists around the country and being under 24-hour surveillance as part of a counter-terror investigation, Khaled Sharrouf walked onto a Kuala Lumpur flight under the nose of Customs on December 6 and has since disappeared.
The 31-year-old father-of-four, one of the most recognisable names in law enforcement, is one of the “terror nine” arrested in the landmark Operation Pendennis investigation in 2005 which thwarted a planned attack on an unspecified target in Sydney.
Authorities strongly suspect he is now in Syria, where it is feared up to 120 other Australians are fighting in the country’s civil war alongside proscribed terror organisations.
A major investigation has been launched by counter-terror authorities into how he escaped the country and why it took 12 days before authorities even realised the father-of-four had disappeared.
It is understood Sharrouf had been at the centre of a major counter-terror investigation by federal police and other agencies which were supposed to be watching his every move.
On November 9 he was observed in remote bushland near Lithgow with several other men holding an unauthorised firearm.
Protocol states that a person with a criminal history such as Sharrouf’s would be immediately charged and taken into custody, however, for operational reasons, he was not charged over the firearm at the time and allowed to remain free.
Khaled Sharrouf in late 1990s copy photo.Â Source:Â News Limited
Sharrouf’s disappearance, a significant embarrassment to border security agencies, was also hushed up by authorities with this newspaper blocked from accessing basic public documents about the case against him.
NSW Police are understood to be furious about the Customs blunder which allowed him to escape, and the lack of security at the airport.
Sharrouf is one of only a few people in Australia charged with plotting a terrorist act and investigators are now scrambling to locate his exact whereabouts.
Court records confirm that on December 18 documents were lodged at Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court charging Sharrouf with falsely using Australian travel documents belonging to another person.
He left the country just three days after Australian Federal Police swooped on two Sydney men for allegedly sending young Australian Muslims to fight in war-ravaged Syria.
Sharrouf’s lawyer, Simon Joyner, said he was unable to answer questions about his client.
“At this stage I will not comment on these issues,” Mr Joyner said.
Sharrouf pleaded guilty in 2009 to possessing six clocks and one hundred and forty batteries, which he admitted were connected with the preparation of a terrorist act.
A judge sentenced him to three years and 11 months jail before he was released in 2009 to spend a further year and three months on parole.
About three weeks before he left Australia, Sharrouf was charged with possessing an unauthorised firearm and ordered to appear in Lithgow Local Court.
The charge relates to an incident on November 9 when police in the village of Glen Davis, near Lithgow, saw Sharrouf and others in remote bushland.
Police allegedly spotted a number of men with rifles and, upon approaching them, saw Sharrouf holding a weapon, which was licensed to another man present at the scene.
He did not appear in court to answer the charge on January 30 and a magistrate has since issued a warrant for his arrest.
During Operation Pendennis investigators followed their targets to two remote bush locations where “training camps” had been set up to test fire weapons and bomb makeshift targets.
Last week the NSW Attorney General’s Department hindered access to basic public documents outlining the firearm charge and false passport charges against Sharrouf, with no official explanation provided.
The Sunday TelegraphÂ has since confirmed Australian Federal Police were given the final say over whether the public-record information should be released.
Instead of refusing access, the department undertook a delaying tactic which, after three days of “considering” whether to release the documents, had still made no decision by Friday close of business, meaning the files could not be released before this newspaper’s deadline.
July 2004: Law enforcement agencies receive a tip-off from the Muslim community alerting them to suspicious behaviour by a group of radicals
November 2005: Joint counterterrorism team arrests nine men in NSW including Khaled Sharrouf â€” all are charged with conspiring to do an act in preparation/planning for a terrorist act. Sharrouf’s passport is confiscated.
June 2008: Sharrouf is found unfit to stand trial for mental health reason. He is later ruled as fit to stand trial.
August 2009: Sharrouf pleads guilty to possessing clocks and batteries in preparation for a terrorist act. He is sentenced to a minimum three years and 11 months.
October 2009: Sharrouf is released and spends one year and three months on parole.
January 2010: U.S. Embassy adds Sharrouf to airport watchlist due to his “demonstrated connections” to Yemeni-cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi.
October 2011: Sharrouf is accused of a violent attack, along with another man, at a restaurant carpark. The charges against both him and his co-accused are dismissed.
February 2013: KGBV Investments is registered. Sharrouf is co-director along with a former Comanchero bikie and another man, Vasko Boskovski.
July 2013: Sharrouf’s business partner Vasko Boskovski is murdered outside his home at Earlwood. The murder remains unsolved.
November 9, 2013: Sharrouf is observed by police firing a gun licensed to another man while on a hunting trip at Glen Davis, near Lithgow. He is charged with possess unauthorised firearm on November 26.
December 3, 2013: Joint counter-terror police arrest two Sydney men over a syndicate sending young Australian Muslims to fight in Syria.
December 6, 2013: Sharrouf hoodwinks Customs at Sydney Airport and uses his brother’s passport to leave Australia for Kuala Lumpur.
December 18, 2013: Counter terror police issue a warrant for Sharrouf’s arrest after realising he is gone. He is charged with two offences over using his brother’s passport. They believe he is in Syria.
January 30, 2014: Arrest warrant is issued over the November 9 offence after Sharrouf does not show up to answer charges at Lithgow Local Court.
Who are the terror nine?
THEY are known as the “Terror Nine” â€” the group responsible for attempting to launch a terrorist attack on Australian soil to rival the devastation of 9/11.
For more than a year, counter-terror agencies analysed their every move, used listening devices to hear their conversations and surveilled them at training camps in remote bush locations.
Among them was young extremist Khaled Sharrouf, a married father-of-four living in Punchbowl with an Anglo-Australian wife who had converted to Islam.
At the time of his arrest in November 2005, Australian-born Sharrouf was on a disability pension and “eked out an existence” labouring on building sites from time to time.
But when police with Operation Pendennis raided his home they found extremist material, instructional documents on how to make and detonate a bomb, and videos of hostages being executed.
Four years later he would plead guilty to conspiring to commit a terrorist attack in NSW â€” the exact location of the strike has never been determined by police.
His role in the plot included an attempt to steal six clocks and 140 batteries from a Big W store at Chullora, which were going to be used as the timer and detonator for a series of bombs.
He was caught by security and ended up serving 14 days in jail â€” but counter-terror officers were watching and saw a bigger picture forming.
In 2009 he was sentenced to a minimum three years and 11 months jail and, due to time already served since his arrest, he was released on parole weeks later.
His wife told the court at the time of his sentencing that once out he wanted to keep to himself and “stay out of trouble”.
But life on the outside has been anything but quiet since his release.
Sharrouf’s associations and business endeavours have not gone unnoticed by police and various law enforcement agencies that have maintained watch over him.
At present he is the co-director of an investment company, KGBV Investments, with former Comanchero bikie Bilal Fatrouni.
Another co-director in the same business, Vasko Boskovski, 35, was gunned down on his doorstep in July last year in a murder that remains unsolved.
In 2010, leaked U.S. embassy cables revealed Sharrouf had been placed on an airport watchlist along with another terror co-conspirator, Mirsad Mulahalilovic, 39, who is also out of jail.
Both men were added because of their “demonstrated links to (Anwar) al-Aulaqi”, the Yemeni-cleric and suspected al-Qaeda leader killed by a drone strike.
In 2011 he was back before the courts after being accused of assaulting a restaurant owner during a brawl over a parking space at Bankstown.
He was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm over the incident, along with his co-accused, Hyde Park rioter Ahmed Elomar.
Elomar is the nephew of Mohamed Ali Elomar, who was convicted of the same terror plot with Sharrouf.
The charges against both men were later dismissed.
If he does return to Australia, Sharrouf will be arrested at the border and charged on outstanding warrants, including using his brother’s passport to leave the country.
The question for law enforcement, however, is whether they will know when he re-enters the country.
And if that does happen, how many others are using the same tactic?