Six Australian men accused of plotting to become foreign fighters allegedly wanted to join a violent militant group in the southern Philippines that is notorious for kidnappings and killing hostages.
Robert “Musa” Cerantonio, Paul Dacre, Shayden Thorne, Kadir Kaya, Murat Kaya and Antonio Granata are fighting allegations they planned to sail from Cape York to join Filipino militant group Abu Sayyaf last year.
On Tuesday all six faced a committal hearing that will determine whether they should stand trial charged with making preparations for incursions into foreign countries to engage in hostile activities.
Abu Sayyaf was founded in the early 1990s and was once linked to al-Qaeda, insurgency analyst Matthew Henman told the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court via video link from London.
But the group has since declared allegiance to IS and purportedly held training camps for “soldiers of the Caliphate” in the southern Philippines region of Mindanao.
Cerantonio, Dacre, Thorne, Granata and Kadir Kaya were arrested near Cairns on May 10, 2016 towing a seven-metre boat en route to Cape York.
Murat Kaya was arrested in Victoria and is accused of helping the others buy the boat that they were allegedly planning to use to leave Australia.
His brother, Kadir, tried to fly to Turkey from Melbourne several months before the alleged boat plot was foiled, the court heard on Tuesday.
In September 2015 Kadir was stopped at Melbourne airport after presenting his Turkish passport at an immigration checkpoint.
Border officials then discovered his Australian passport had been cancelled and Kadir was prevented from boarding his flight.
The hearing before Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg will resume on Wednesday.