An Adelaide nursing student has been found guilty of being a member of the terror group ISIS. A Supreme Court jury returned the verdict against 23-year-old Zainab Abdirahman-Khalif on Monday after three hours of deliberations. Abdirahman-Khalif was remanded in custody for sentencing at a later date. She moved to Australia from Somalia when she was 14.
The nursing student was arrested at Port Adelaide TAFE campus by Australian Federal Police in May last year. Abdirahaman-Khalif was accused of singing ISIS propaganda songs at her home and swearing her loyalty to the group online. At the time of the arrest, Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney from Australian Federal Police said “there was online activity in terms of her engaging with … (terror) suspects around the world”. “She is of Somali origin, but we’re not targeting race. We’re targeting ideologies (and) we’re targeting criminality,” he said.
The court previously heard Abdirahman-Khalif was stopped by police at Adelaide Airport after she tried to board a plane to Istanbul in July 2016. Carrying only hand luggage and less than $200 in cash, she told officers she intended to work for an aid organisation and expected her living expenses and the cost of a flight home would be covered. She was later released, but arrested at the Port Adelaide TAFE SA campus in May 2017, following a year-long investigation.
In evidence, a counter-terrorism police officer said 127 video files of “investigative relevance” were found on her phone, and the jury was played a compilation of violent scenes. The court also heard she had been in communication with three young women and knew about their deadly terror attack on a police station in Kenya before it occurred.
In his closing, prosecutor Chris Winneke QC said Abdirahman-Khalif had “wholly embraced the concepts and aligned herself with the ideology of the Islamic State”. He said she had gone a step further by taking action to become a member of the group. She set off to go to Turkey, to engage with terrorists in the view of lending her support to Islamic State,” he said. “In doing so, she became a member of Islamic State.” Abdirahman-Khalif was remanded in custody to re-appear before the court in October.