Place of Birth: Australia;
Mohamed Zuhbi was captured by a pro-Turkish militia in June last year and handed over to Turkish authorities. He has since been convicted in a court there and is expected to be deported to Australia soon.
Zuhbi was one of the most prominent among Australia’s Islamic State supporters and was close to many of the Australian men who went to fight and die in Syria and Iraq with the declared terrorist group.
Turkish court documents show that the Australian confessed that he had travelled to the group’s de-facto Syrian capital, Raqqa, in 2015, to join, and underwent weeks of religious and military training.
He told prosecutors he was then assigned a role in an Islamic State bureaucracy connected to travel and communication and also worked as an English translator for the group. When Raqqa fell to a Kurdish offensive in mid-2017 he used smugglers to flee to Syria’s north-west.
He then lived in that area for two years – even opening a childcare centre with a male relative of a local woman he married – before being captured at a militia checkpoint.
He was sent to Turkey and ultimately sentenced to more than seven years for joining Islamic State and related crimes, the documents states.
The court then gave him a series of reductions because of “assistance provided” that saw his final sentence reduced to about a-year-and-a-half.
His arrest and expected return to Australia is the end of a four-year manhunt by authorities for the Australian citizen but may also create a new legal headache for the Federal Government.
The US has explicitly stated it expects Zuhbi to be extradited to America for trial there, with prosecutors in Houston arguing that because Zuhbi was engaged in an alleged conspiracy with US citizens they have jurisdiction.
He has also been accused in the media of helping Australians cross into Syria and may face charges related to those Australian allegations when he returns.
The Australian Government declined to respond to questions by the ABC about whether Zuhbi would face Australian courts or if Canberra would allow the Americans to prosecute him.
If Zuhbi returns to Australia, he will be the second Australian returned home from the Middle East, following a decision by the Turkish Government late last year to begin deporting almost 1,000 people they accuse of being Islamic State members or associates, and their relatives.
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