An Australian man has been arrested for allegedly researching how to develop laser targeted missile detection equipment for ISIS, as well as working to help develop a long-range capable missile for the Islamic extremists.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) arrested 42-year-old Haisem Zahab on Tuesday at his family home in rural New South Wales, Australia. The electrician had been providing advice to ISIS militants over the internet intended to help them develop an early warning device that would indicate when ISIS strongholds were being targeted by laser guided weapon systems. He had also been putting his expertise to use in aiding in ISIS’ efforts to develop medium and long-range ballistic missiles intended to help extend the reach of the group’s violent efforts.
“Police will allege the man was performing services for the overseas activities of Islamic State by researching and designing a laser warning device to help warn against incoming laser-guided munitions used by forces in Syria and Iraq; and also by researching, designing and modelling systems to assist with Islamic State efforts to develop a long-range guided missile,” an AFP spokesperson said after the arrest on Tuesday.
Although suffering a number of defeats at the hands of coalition forces in Syria and Iraq recently, ISIS continues to find new ways to adapt their fighting strategy to include munitions they gain control of through their efforts around the world, even going so far as to begin manufacturing weapons in abandoned factories they’ve gained control of in Iraq. Reports indicate that ISIS forces have begun making their own mortars, rockets, bombs, and even drones equipped with explosives. Zahab, who owns a solar panel installation company, intended to provide ISIS with the means they need to expand their weapons manufacturing processes to include ballistic missiles that could dramatically increase their combat capability.
“Make no mistake, anyone allegedly supporting foreign fighters – whether through travelling to conflict zones, or by their actions here on Australian soil – remain firmly in the sights of law enforcement,” Ian McCartney, the AFP’s assistant commissioner for counter terrorism told reporters on Tuesday.
“This highlights that terrorism, support for terrorist groups, and Islamist extremism is not limited to our major cities,” he added.
No specific terror attack has been linked to Zahab’s efforts, and according to initial reports, law enforcement found no indication that Zahab was planning a local attack in Australia, but rather was content to aid in the terrorist’s efforts from afar.
Zahab was arrested in front of his family on Tuesday as law enforcement converged on his rural home about 93 miles north-west of Canberra. Dogs and metal detectors were used to scour the property for equipment Zahab may have attempted to hide.
“This is a very technical offence and this gentleman is quite technically minded so we will be doing a complete, thorough forensic examination of that property,” Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin told the press.
According to Colvin, Zahab was acting alone, and although he lacks formal training on such weapon systems, his advice was “fairly sophisticated and well-planned.”
Although the arrest has already been made, law enforcement is continuing to search the property for more evidence indicating what technical information Zahab has already provided ISIS with, as well as any intelligence that may aid Australia’s allies in their ongoing fight against the extremists around the globe.
“It could take hours, if not days, and we will leave no stone unturned in what we’re looking for,” Colvin said. “It once again shows that we all need to be very vigilant.”
Image courtesy of the Australian Federal Police