A Sydney teenager who tried to slip out of the country to join Islamic State told authorities that he was going on a two-week holiday to Malaysia despite having just hand luggage and $6000 cash on him.
Ahmad Saiyer Naizmand, 19, used his older brother's passport to leave Sydney on August 6, telling customs officials that he was going to Malaysia for two weeks to visit his uncle.
He had booked his ticket that morning at Flight Centre in Rouse Hill, paying $850 in cash and saying that his mother had asked him to urgently go over to help his uncle sort out visa issues.
The Afghan-born teen, who works as a courier, was once a talented rugby league player and was selected in 2011 to play representative football for the North Sydney Bears.
However, he had his passport cancelled in 2013 due to security concerns. His family home in Kellyville was also raided during the September counter-terrorism operation in Sydney.
About 9pm on August 6, CCTV captured Naizmand smiling as he approached the customs barrier at Sydney Airport on his way to Kuala Lumpur.
He presented his 20-year-old brother Ahmad Samir Naizmand's passport, telling customs officials that he was a second-year law student, was travelling alone with hand luggage only and had $6000 in cash to keep him going while in Malaysia with his uncle, according to an agreed statement of facts tendered in court.
He was allowed to board the plane to Kuala Lumpur but when he turned up in Dubai two days later, authorities swooped and brought him back to Sydney, where he was charged.
When he arrived back in Sydney with police in tow, he mistakenly filled out an incoming passenger card under his own name despite purporting to be his brother, court documents state.
Naizmand pleaded guilty on Tuesday in the Downing Centre Local Court to unlawfully using travel documents issued to another person.
Amazingly, authorities twigged despite the brothers sharing the same first name, looking very similar and sharing the same birth date - January 1 - just a year apart.
The family moved to Australia in 2004 and Naizmand became a citizen in 2007. He received an Australian passport in January 2013 but it was cancelled just six months later due to terrorism concerns.
Dozens of Australians, mostly young men, have been prevented from leaving Australia to travel to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIL.
About 90 Australians are believed to be fighting with Islamic State and 20 Australians have died.
Outside the court, Naizmand smiled and said he had no comment to make.
Magistrate Carolyn Huntsman asked that a pre-sentence report on Naizmand's physical and mental condition be undertaken before sentencing "due to the nature of the charge".
He will be sentenced in February 2015.
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