Challenge: Hamdi Alqudsi was arrested in December 2013 and charged with recruiting, funding and organising for people to travel to Syria Photo: Daniel MunozThe first High Court challenge to the Abbott government’s foreign incursion laws has been lodged on behalf of a Sydney man who was the first person in Australia to be charged with recruiting and sending people overseas to fight with terrorist groups in Syria.
In what will be a landmark case, a writ was lodged last week in the High Court by lawyer Zali Burrows on behalf of her client, 39-year-old Hamdi Alqudsi, challenging the constitutional validity of the federal laws.
Barrister and professor of law at the University of New South Wales George Williams has been briefed to appear in the High Court on behalf of Mr Alqudsi.
It is expected the first hearing date will be set before the end of the year.
It is the first legal test case of its kind and legal experts say it will be a major case that will test the extent of the federal government’s power over such legal matters.
The writ said that Mr Alqudsi is seeking a determination that the section of the Crimes Act dealing with foreign incursions is invalid.
Mr Alqudsi, of St Helen’s Park, was charged under a section of the Crimes Act relating to foreign incursions and recruitment, which makes it illegal to travel to a foreign state or help someone to travel for engagement in hostile activity, or to train or be trained for hostile activity. The offence carries a maximum of 10 years’ jail.
Mr Alqudsi was arrested in December 2013 and charged with recruiting, funding and organising for people to travel to Syria to fight with Jabhat al-Nusra and other al-Qaeda affiliates.
Police have alleged that he organised travel and overseas contacts for seven people including Sydney couple Yusuf Ali and his wife Amira Karroum, both aged 22.
The couple were caught in factional fighting just days after their arrival in Syria and were killed by a group believed to be the Free Syrian Army. The whereabouts of five other men who Mr Alqudsi allegedly helped to get to Syria are unknown.
A seventh man allegedly recruited by Mr Alqudsi, Amin Iman Mohamad, of Lidcombe, was arrested at Brisbane Airport in December and charged with preparing to engage in foreign hostile activities.
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