Hamdi Alqudsi, the Sydney man convicted of recruiting six young men for Islamic State (Isis), said during his sentence hearing on Wednesday (24 August) that he was "not a terrorist". Breaking down while testifying, he told the court that he regretted his act and that he loved Australia.
In July, a jury unanimously found the 42-year-old guilty of working with senior Australian IS (Daesh) fighter Mohammad Ali Baryalei to recruit seven men and for making travel arrangements for them to go to Syria in 2013. However, the convict told the New South Wales Supreme Court that he thought Isis worked towards helping civilians.
"As an Australian I should have minded my own business. I love Australia, I always have," Alqudsi, who now faces a maximum of 10 years in jail under Australia's foreign incursion laws, told the court. He also admitted that he knew the seven men for whom he had made travel arrangements.
"At the time, I felt it was the right thing to do. I am really, really sorry for what I have done," the BBC quoted him as saying. He said he should have stuck to his usual work of collecting donations for Syrian civilians trough registered charity groups.
The man also admitted that he knew the men were going to Syria to participate in a war, but added that he never encouraged them to go to the Middle East nation; rather, the men approached him for help.
Six of his recruits reportedly went to Syria, while one never left Australia. Two of the six died in Syria and two others returned to the country, but the remaining two are still untraceable.