Three men found guilty of terror plot on Oz army base
Three Australian citizens who were upset about their country's involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and believed that Islam was under attack from the west were today found guilty of planning a suicide attack on an army base in Sydney.world Updated: Dec 23, 2010 12:44 IST
Three Australian citizens who were upset about their country's involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and believed that Islam was under attack from the west were on Thursday found guilty of planning a suicide attack on an army base in Sydney.
Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, 34, Saney Edow Aweys, 27 and 26-year old Nayef El Sayed, were found guilty at the Supreme Court and could face life in prison.
All are Australian citizens of Lebanese or Somalian origins. Two of their co-accused, Yacqub Khayre, 23 and Abdirahman Ahmed 26 Preston, were found not guilty.
Prosecutors alleged the men sought from figures in Somalia a fatwa, or religious ruling, on the permissibility of staging an attack in Australia.
The Melbourne men planned to kill as many people as possible in a shootout at the Holsworthy Army Barracks in reaction to Australia's involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and over the jailing of a group of Muslim men on similar charges. The three will appear in court for a mention hearing on January 24, the ABC reported.
The court heard they planned a shootout at the Holsworthy army barracks in the belief Islam was under attack from the West.
The men remained impassive and expressionless as the verdicts were read out. Afterwards, the three guilty men embraced the two acquitted, slapping them on their backs.
Fattal expressed his thanks, calling out to the 12 jurors. "I respect you," he said, adding "Islam is a true religion, thank you very much."
Federal Attorney General Robert McClelland said the investigation into the group, codenamed Operation Neath, was a clear example of state and federal police and intelligence community co-operation working to combat the threat of terrorism.
The Federal Government says it cannot comment on the verdict, but it is important to acknowledge the police and intelligence agencies behind the arrests in 2009.
McClelland said the prosecution was the result of a long and complex joint investigation.
The Australian Federal Police tapped the men's phones for the six months leading up to their arrests in August last year during raids across Victoria.
The court heard how Aweys and El Sayed did not trust Australia's religious scholars, so sought approval for the attack from two Somali sheikhs.
One of the sheikhs said the result would be "catastrophic", but that did not stop Fattal travelling to the army base, a site he later described as a "soft target".
In the phone conversations, they often expressed their support for Islamic fighters and some of them said they would be willing to become martyrs to advance the cause of Islam.
First Published: Dec 23, 2010 12:40 IST