15 March 2023

'ISIS bride' appears in Young Court as prosecutors gather evidence

| Genevieve Jacobs
Start the conversation
Man and woman

Mariam Raad is the widow of ISIS recruiter, Muhammad Zahab. Photo: ABC.

Prosecutors are seeking further information to sustain charges against so-called ISIS bride Miriam Raad, the Young Local Court heard on Wednesday (15 March).

She made a brief appearance in court, supported by family members, and remained silent throughout.

It’s alleged that Ms Raad, who was arrested and charged with entering a declared area in January, travelled willingly to Syria in 2014 and was aware of her husband’s activities as a recruiter for ISIS.

The declared area has now been confirmed as the ISIS stronghold of Raqaa in northern Syria, which was captured by ISIS in 2014 and held by the terrorist organisation until Syrian Democratic Forces militia liberated the city in 2017.

The city of 200,000 has been largely destroyed by more than 4450 US airstrikes and is now all but deserted.

READ ALSO New $19m police station for Young a Cooke election promise

Ms Raad was repatriated from Syria in October, along with 16 other wives and children of Islamic State fighters, after spending the intervening years in an Internally Displaced Persons camp near the Iraqi border.

Prosecutors told the court they are poring through records and messages from mobile devices and needed more time to assemble financial records in an effort to prove that Ms Raad knew her husband was actively involved in the terrorist operation being run from the defacto ISIS capital.

Ms Raad’s husband, former maths teacher Muhammad Zahab, is believed to have been one of the most effective ISIS recruiters, bringing dozens of relatives and friends into the ISIS fold after travelling to Syria in 2013. It’s thought he was killed in a 2018 air strike.

READ ALSO Woman of the Year finalist Jorja O’Brien already making the world a better place

In an interview with The Australian while she was being held at the displaced persons camp, Ms Raad told journalists she was desperate to return home and fearful about the wellbeing of her four children, whom she constantly feared losing. Two children were born in Australia and a further two during her time in Syria.

She has been under close surveillance since returning home and was charged in January after Australian Federal Police and NSW Police investigators from the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team executed search warrants on premises in Young and Parklea.

Prosecutors were granted an eight-week extension to gather further evidence including outstanding items from overseas.

Ms Raad is not required to attend her next hearing, which will be moved to Goulburn court.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.