Qld pet trainer charged with funding extremists
A Queensland dog trainer and a Melbourne gemstone trader have been arrested as "senior players" of a sophisticated Australian terror network paying for foreign fighters to travel to Syria to join Jabhat al-Nusra.
Joint Counter Terrorism Teams from Queensland and Victoria yesterday pounced on the men in co-ordinated raids, charging them over their alleged involvement in a "sophisticated terrorist network" being run out of southeast Queensland.
Gabriel Crazzi, 34, from Chambers Flat in Brisbane, and Ahmed Talib, 31, from Melbourne, are alleged to have been key players in the religiously-motivated extremist organisation.
The network is understood to have been responsible for funding Queensland man Ahmed Succarieh's 2013 trip to Syria where he became Australia's first suicide bomber.
The former schoolboy from Brisbane's southside is believed to have blown himself up when he drove a truck loaded with explosives into a military checkpoint in Syria in September, 2013.
The explosion killed 35 people.
It will be alleged Crazzi and Talib developed networks in Australia, Turkey and Syria that helped Australians get into Syria to fight for Jabhat al-Nusra in 2012 and 2013.
Crazzi has been charged with seven foreign incursion related offences, while Talib is facing one charge.
Talib appeared before Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday and is facing extradition to Queensland.
Crazzi is due to appear before the Brisbane Magistrates Court today.
AFP Commander Stephen Dametto said the arrests were a culmination of the AFP, Queensland Police Service and ASIO working together to keep the community safe.
"Today is an example of our commitment to discourage Australians from fighting overseas and holding people to account for their involvement in supporting terrorism and terrorist organisations," he said.
"It also highlights the hard work and professionalism of the people and agencies involved in the Joint Counter Terrorism Teams and their dedication to protect the community."
Queensland Police Acting Superintendent Heath Hutchings said it had been a long-running investigation.
"It was a protracted, challenging and complex investigation and through persistence and tenacity, we have reached resolution today in the arrest of the two persons," he said.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Hermans said: "Today's arrest highlights the cooperative nature of these investigations involving agencies from across Australia, and I would like to reinforce that there is no ongoing threat to the Victorian community."
Talib was last year named a terror "facilitator" by the US State Department and was accused of using his gemstone business as a front for moving money for al-Qaeda.
US authorities, as well as ASIO, tracked suspicious money movements from Australia to Talib's native Sri Lanka, Qatar, Tanzania and Colombia.
His $1.4m Doncaster home was raided by AFP, Victoria Police and ASIO in October but no charges were laid at the time.
He met his wife Jerry Campbell while they were both studying at Bond University. Talib studied international relations and Ms Campbell - who is not accused of any wrongdoing - studied nursing. They married in 2007.
In 2010, Talib was shot by Israeli special forces while part of a protest group attempting to get into Gaza.
According to his social media profiles, Crazzi was born in Bucharest, Romania and attended Ipswich Grammar School.
Business records show he worked as a fruit and vegetable supplier before starting a dog training business called Empower Canine.
"Empower Canine is a training and canine education centre based in Chambers Flat," his Facebook profile reads.
"We work with everything from the smallest lapdogs all the way to operational working dogs as well as dogs participating in bite sports."
In one social media post, Crazzi talked about his love of working with dogs.
"I live my passion daily and get to make people's lives better," the accused terror financier said.
"I'm really grateful to be able to do this."
A prominent member of Brisbane's Muslim community said Crazzi was "by no stretch of the imagination" a terrorist or extremist.
"The fact that it took nine years to figure this out, in itself, raises more questions on the intentions behind the timing of this arrest," he said.
Originally published as Gem dealer and dog trainer held after 'extremist network' probe