Zaky Mallah is an Australian who pleaded guilty to threatening to kill officers of ASIO or DFAT.[1] In 2011 Mallah travelled to Syria to film the Syrian Civil War, declaring himself in support of the Free Syrian Army. In 2015 he was controversially allowed to ask a question on the ABC program Q&A, leading then Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott to question "Which side is the ABC on"?[2]

Zaky Mallah
Born (1983-08-11) 11 August 1983 (age 38)
Known forFirst individual charged under Australia's anti-terrorism laws

First Australian charged under its anti-terrorism actEdit

In 2003, when he was nineteen, Mallah was the first to be arrested [3] under then-recently enacted amendments to Australia's federal Criminal Code Act which introduced specific offences for terrorism-related acts. Mallah spent two years in Goulburn Correctional Centre subject to solitary confinement and a 22-hour lockdown while he awaited trial.[4][5]

The circumstances of the case were that after being refused a passport, Mallah appealed through a lawyer to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Both Mallah and his lawyer were barred from viewing the evidence supporting the passport refusal, which was upheld. Mallah then purchased a rifle and ammunition, prepared his will and made a video to be played after he died. Mallah bragged about this and his claims were eventually brought up on the Alan Jones radio program. The Australian newspaper then paid him $500 for an interview. The Counter Terrorist Command, also aware of the threats, sent an undercover officer posing as a freelance journalist to do another interview. This undercover officer offered Mallah $5,000 if he would hold everyone hostage at ASIO headquarters and give the "journalist" the scoop.[6]

Entrapment of a suspect in Australia is legal if the police obtain a "controlled operations authority certificate." However, the police did not get a certificate so the entrapment was illegal.[7] At his trial Justice James Wood allowed the entrapment into evidence. Wood criticized the media for accepting claims as credible and giving them undue prominence in newspapers.

At his trial, the jury found Mallah not guilty of 2 counts of "committing an act in preparation for or in the planning of a terrorist act, contrary to s.101.6(1)". Justice Wood stated that "the prisoner was an idiosyncratic, and embittered young man, who was to all intents something of a loner, without significant prospects of advancing himself. While I accept that the Prisoner enjoyed posing as a potential martyr, and may from time to time, in his own imagination, have contemplated creating a siege and taking the lives of others, I am satisfied that in his more rational moments he lacked any genuine intention of doing so."

Mallah was also charged with "making a threat to cause serious harm to a third party: (s.147.2)", referring to the verbal threats made to the undercover officer. He was sentenced to two and a half years jail. [3][8][9][10]

In September 2005, his jail term was extended by 6 weeks for assaulting a prison officer.[11]

Dismissal from ANZ StadiumEdit

In 2011 Mallah was employed by ANZ Stadium until he was fired for broadcasting a video of non-public areas of the Stadium on YouTube.[12] The videos included a shot of a private dining room, for VIPs, and a shot of the kitchen, where he worked. ANZ Stadium officials stated that the broadcast breached his employment conditions. Mallah asserted that his firing was triggered by his employers learning that he had once been charged under the anti-terrorism act.

Observing the Syrian civil warEdit

In 2011, following uprisings that were part of the Arab Spring, Mallah travelled to Syria during the Syrian civil war.[4] Mallah has asserted that he and all the other Australians he met in Syria were filling non-combat roles, which would not violate Australian law.

While in Syria Mallah uploaded videos he made to Facebook, some of which were republished by mainstream Australian news sources.[13]

The Australian published a profile of Mallah, where he described himself as engaging in a "Jihad of Peace".[14] They quoted Mallah describing how seeing his guide shot by a sniper filled him with a new appreciation for the freedoms found in Australian society.

Mallah says he does not support ISIS, that he "hates ISIS" and supported the Free Syrian Army. [15][16]

Return to AustraliaEdit

In December 2012, after returning from Syria, The Australian reported Mallah claimed he had received death threats from individuals who doubted his truthfulness, and suspected he was a covert employee of Australian security agencies.[17]

In January 2013, Mallah was a member of a panel interviewed by ABC journalist Stephanie Smail.[18] According to Smail, Mallah started the Free Syria Army Australia group.

In May 2013 Mallah published a guideline for other Australians considering volunteering to help Muslims in war zones on how they could do so, without violating provisions in the anti-terrorism act that barred Australians from fighting in foreign wars.[1] According to the, Mallah's analysis was that various kinds of non-violent assistance in war zones would not violate Australian law.[4] Mallah asserted treating wounded fighters would not violate Australian law; neither would preparing or serving rations, or carrying flags. Mallah claimed that individuals killed while aiding fighters would be martyrs entitled to the same after-life benefits an actual fighter is promised. His guideline also included advice for volunteers who wanted to avoid risking their own lives.

Zee News reported on 18 May 2013 that Mallah had been charged under the anti-terrorism act a second time for broadcasting the video.[19]

Appearance on ABC Q&AEdit

Mallah appeared on Q&A on 22 June 2015,[20] putting a pre-approved question to LNP member Steven Ciobo. Prime Minister Tony Abbott strongly criticised the ABC for "giving Mallah a platform" saying that "heads should roll".[21] He asked "Which side is the ABC on?" and said that the ABC "betrayed" Australia.[2]

Mallah went on to debate Waleed Aly on The Project[22][23] and published an opinion piece in The Guardian's Comment is free.[15] Mallah argued that young Muslims in Australia feel vilified by a government "looking for votes" and that the citizenship proposal is a "very dangerous step" that moves Australia towards "an authoritarian system." Mallah argued that "ASIO and counter-terrorism police" benefit from community relations, and that the government should listen to people like him because he had "been to Syria" and understands the world view of young people considering leaving.[16]

Flag designEdit

Mallah designed a new flag for Australia in 2015 which he named AusRoo.[24]

Denied entry to SingaporeEdit

On 7 June 2018, Mallah was denied entry to Singapore.[25][26] Officials detained him, at the airport. Mallah was able to contact an Australian reporter before Singapore officials took away his phone, prior to questioning him. He later reported they questioned him for five hours, before sending him back to Australia.


  1. ^ a b "Oz jihadist charged for issuing 'how-to survive' holy war list on Facebook". Sydney, Australia: Business Insider. 18 May 2013. An Australian has been charged under anti-terrorist laws for issuing a how-to list on Facebook for how young men can engage in holy war without getting killed or ending up in Guantanamo Bay.
  2. ^ a b James Massola (23 June 2015). "'Whose side are you on?' Tony Abbott lashes ABC's Q&A program". Sydney Morning Herald.
  3. ^ a b Natasha Wallace; Joseph Kerr (7 April 2005). "Not a terrorist, just an angry loner starved of attention". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 3 January 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2013. If Mallah had been convicted, he might have been jailed for life. But instead a jury in the NSW Supreme Court accepted the 21-year-old never intended to kill anyone and was just an angry loner who resented the Government for denying him a passport and allegedly oppressing Muslims in Australia.
  4. ^ a b c Candace Sutton (17 May 2013). "Australian ex terrorist accused's top tips for joining jihad". Australian News. Retrieved 18 May 2013. Jihad is not just about taking up arms and fighting, it can also be undertaken without breaking laws," he said. "There are several methods of being involved in the struggle.
  5. ^ "Zaky Mallah Q&A outrage undermines free speech".
  6. ^ Richard Ackland (24 June 2015). "The hysteria over Zaky Mallah on Q&A would make Joseph McCarthy proud". Guardian. Retrieved 20 July 2015. The plan hatched with the undercover officer was that on payment of $5,000 Mallah would hold everyone hostage at Asio headquarters and the “journalist” would have a scoop.
  7. ^ Richard Ackland (24 June 2015). "The hysteria over Zaky Mallah on Q&A would make Joseph McCarthy proud". Guardian. Retrieved 20 July 2015. When the police go undercover in the guise of someone else and offer money as part of the entrapment of a suspect, they are supposed to obtain a “controlled operations authority”. Here there was no controlled operations certificate when the police approached Mallah pretending to be interested in buying his story, so if we’re talking about “technicalities” the police in this instance were acting illegally.
  8. ^ Bernadette Maree McSherry. "The Introduction of Terrorism-Related Offences in Australia: Comfort or Concern?".
  9. ^ Natasha Wallace and Joseph Kerr. "Not a terrorist, just an angry loner starved of attention". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Mallah jailed for ASIO death threats". Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Threat man gets more jail". The Age. The Age. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  12. ^ Amy Dale (30 May 2011). "Former terror suspect Zaky Mallah sacked for YouTube videos of restricted areas". The Telegraph (au). Retrieved 18 May 2013. Mr Mallah told The Daily Telegraph last night he believed he was sacked after his employer found he had once been accused of terrorism, a claim yesterday denied by ANZ Stadium.
  13. ^ Zaky Mallah (19 September 2012). "Zaky Mallah on the Syrian front line". Syria: Perth Now. Archived from the original on 16 June 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013. Filming from the front line of the Syrian conflict, the first Australian Muslim jailed under anti-terror laws Zaky Mallah comes under fire.
  14. ^ Adam Shand (20 September 2012). "Rebel urges Muslims to wage a jihad of peace". The Australian. Retrieved 19 May 2013. "They said, 'Congratulations to him, we now have another martyr.' That was their approach to someone being shot but, as an Australian, I was in tears that I had lost someone," he says. At that moment Mr Mallah realised how misguided his anger towards Australian society had been.
  15. ^ a b Zaky Mallah (23 June 2015). "Zaky Mallah: I stand by what I said on Q&A. Australia needs to hear it". The Guardian Comment is Free.
  16. ^ a b "Zaky Mallah: I stand by what I said on Q&A. Australia needs to hear it".
  17. ^ Adam Shand (24 December 2012). "Aussie supporter of Syrian rebels faces death threats over ASIO contact". The Australian. Retrieved 18 May 2013. Sydney man Zaky Mallah, who was previously charged under anti-terror laws, told The Australian that he had been falsely accused of working for intelligence agencies and informing on Australian Muslims who had joined the Free Syrian Army.
  18. ^ Stephanie Smail (4 January 2013). "Arabic leaders call for closer scrutiny of Australians heading to Syria". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 18 May 2013. But some deny any Australians are fighting. Zaky Mallah started the Free Syria Army Australia group. He was previously charged under anti-terror laws but found not guilty. He says he's recently travelled to Syria and insists Australians are only providing humanitarian aid.
  19. ^ "Oz jihadist charged for issuing 'how-to survive' holy war list on Facebook". Sydney, Australia: Zee News. 18 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013. An Australian has been charged under anti-terrorist laws for issuing a how-to list on Facebook for how young men can engage in holy war without getting killed or ending up in Guantanamo Bay.
  20. ^ "Terror, Poverty & Native Titles - Q&A - ABC TV".
  21. ^ "PM slams ABC: 'Whose side are you on here?'". Sky News. 23 June 2015.
  22. ^ "Social media divided over The Project's Waleed Aly interview with former terror suspect Zaky Mallah". 24 June 2015.
  23. ^ "Waleed Aly takes down a former terror suspect in an interview". Mamamia. 24 June 2015.
  24. ^ "The AusRoo". 2015.
  25. ^ Gabrielle Adams (7 June 2018). "'Attention seeker' Zaky Mallah back in Australia after being detained in Singapore". 9 news. Archived from the original on 8 June 2018. The 34-year-old was denied entry into the country “on account of his terrorism-relation antecedents,” a spokesperson from Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs office told 9NEWS. He was deemed a security threat ahead of next week's summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
  26. ^ "Former terrorism suspect Zaky Mallah detained in Singapore". The Guardian. 7 June 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2018. He told Seven he was seen as a security threat ahead of next Tuesday’s expected summit between the US president, Donald Trump, and North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.