Ishaq Ul Matari was arrested in October last year by the Lebanese Security Forces. Picture: Ishaq Ul Matari/Facebook
Ishaq Ul Matari was arrested in October last year by the Lebanese Security Forces. Picture: Ishaq Ul Matari/Facebook

Would-be foreign fighter sent back to Oz

THE Sydney schoolboy jailed in Lebanon after being caught trying to cross into Syria to become a foreign fighter has been deported to Australia.

And it can be revealed Australian Border Force officials interrogated Ishaq Ul Matari at the airport as he left Australia, but let him go after he said he was not intending to join the jihad, and they found no incriminating evidence on his phone.

Ul Matari, of Blacktown, was deported from Lebanon in June after being released from prison in Beirut after serving almost nine months in jail.

Sydney man Ishaq Ul Matari has been sent back to Australia.
Sydney man Ishaq Ul Matari has been sent back to Australia.

The 19-year-old Australian-Palestinian man was arrested in October last year by the Lebanese Security Forces, who alleged he was attempting to become a foreign fighter or a suicide bomber.

He was convicted in a military tribunal in the capital Beirut of being a member of the terror group Islamic State, and sentenced to a one-year prison term.

He was released on June 6 after serving nine months' jail and deported to Australia.

There has been no sign of Ul Matari at his Sydney home.

News Corp can reveal Ul Matari told Lebanese intelligence agents who interrogated him that he had become radicalised by reading about Islamic State online.

He named the websites Jihadology and Bestcare, intelligence sources said.

He also told the Lebanese officials he was detained for two hours at Sydney Airport on August 19 last year by Australian border officials who searched his phone and questioned him.

Ishaq Ul Matari told Lebanese intelligence agents who interrogated him that he had become radicalised by reading about Islamic State online.
Ishaq Ul Matari told Lebanese intelligence agents who interrogated him that he had become radicalised by reading about Islamic State online.

However, he said they let him go after he told them was going to Lebanon to study sharia law and they found no incriminating information on his phone.

He was arrested two months later in Tripoli in northern Lebanon after local authorities monitored his on-ine activity.

"He told his father he wanted to become a member of Islamic State and wanted to establish the caliphate,'' an intelligence source told News Corp.

However, the source said Ul Matari had told his interrogators his father had not allowed him to travel or to join IS.

The Sydney man went to  Lebanon claiming he wished to study sharia in Tripoli.  Picture: Ishaq Ul Matari/Facebook
The Sydney man went to Lebanon claiming he wished to study sharia in Tripoli. Picture: Ishaq Ul Matari/Facebook

Instead, Ul Matari told them he had waited until he turned 18 and applied for an Australian passport himself, which he used to travel to Lebanon.

There he moved to Tripoli in the country's north, a Sunni and Alawite city known as a hotbed of extremist activity.

He told his interrogators his radicalisation was given a boost by the fact his parents argued all the time, and his Iraqi girlfriend had left him and married one of his friends.

He came to Lebanon claiming he wished to study sharia in Tripoli.

The intelligence sources said they found he had been searching online how to get into Syria from Lebanon on Google maps, while he was in Australia.

Documents outlining his interrogation, which formed part of the case against him, said he had planned to go to Arsal, a town in Lebanon that was occupied by Islamic State and besieged by the Lebanese Army, who finally drove the terrorists out in late August 2017.

The interrogation notes say Ul Matari realised he could not travel to Arsal due to the conflict, so he changed his plans and searched on Facebook for other jihadis who could assist him.

He was arrested before he travelled outside of Lebanon.