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Five found guilty over armed extremist plot

world Updated: Oct 16, 2009 08:00 IST

Five Muslim men were found guilty on Friday of plotting a violent jihadist attack in Australia using guns and explosives after the country's longest extremist trial.

The men, who are facing possible life sentences, showed little reaction to the verdict reached after a 10-month trial. But there were angry scenes outside the purpose-built, high security court as their supporters scuffled with media.

Prosecutors had said the men were trying to punish Australia for sending troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. Four others were earlier convicted over the plot hatched between July 2004 and November 2005.

The five were "motivated by a perception that the participation of Australia in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were acts of aggression against the wider Muslim community," prosecutor Richard Maidment told New South Wales Supreme Court earlier.

"They were motivated to pursue what they probably saw as a religious cause, that is that of jihad."

Justice Anthony Whealy had urged jurors to put aside any prejudices before beginning their deliberations, which lasted four-and-a-half weeks.

"Special demands have been placed on your concentration. It has been my observation that you have acted with the utmost integrity and diligence," he said Friday.

"Importantly, I'm sure that you have brought considerable diligence and an amount of integrity to the important task of deliberation."