Islamic Terrorism in India

Most Muslims are not terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims

Australia: Shocking revelations of a failed jihad

Posted by jagoindia on September 24, 2008


Sunday September 21, 2008
Shocking revelations of a failed jihad
INSIGHT: DOWN UNDER WITH JEFFREY FRANCIS

SELF-PROCLAIMED Muslim cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika had told his followers in a home-grown terrorist cell plotting massive bomb attacks on Australian soil that they must be prepared to die or be jailed.

He was accused of instructing them to blast a stadium packed with more than 91,000 fans of the Australian-rule football grand final in 2005.

And in one of the discussions with his followers he spoke about the youngest man in the group, Abdullah Merhi, 23, who was prepared to become Australia’s first suicide bomber. The plots failed because of simultaneous police raids.

Potential targets
Among the materials seized from the homes of the group members were literature on how to make bombs, video tapes of messages from al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and videos of the beheading of terrorist victims.

Benbrika’s instruction, contained in a batch of 482 tapes, was played at his seven-month marathon trial €” Australia’s biggest terrorism case costing multi-million-dollars €” which ended partly last week.

The jury of nine women and two men, who took 22 days of deliberations and emerged with highly unusual split verdicts, found Benbrika guilty of directing and intentionally being a member of a terror cell in Melbourne and possessing a CD connected with the preparation for a terrorist act.

Among the potential targets, the prosecution claimed, were Australia’s biggest entertainment and gambling centre Crown Casino and Melbourne’s rail network.

Perhaps the most serious allegation against the firebrand Benbrika was his declaration to his followers that it was “permissible to kill women, the elderly and children in the name of jihad”.

The Algerian-born former aircraft electrical technician, who had escaped three deportation orders since 1990 as an illegal immigrant before being granted permanent residency in 1995 on the ground of his marriage to a Lebanese woman with Australian citizenship, is said to have never worked and received welfare payments during most of the 18 years he has been allowed to live in Australia.

Ironically, one of his reasons for seeking permanent stay was that he loved the lifestyle in Australia.

A father of seven children, he is among the 12 men charged with a total of 27 counts of terrorist activities in Melbourne. Six of the accused were convicted last week, four were acquitted and the fate of two others has yet to be decided in a retrial. Those convicted will be sentenced in November.

The group, operating between July 2004 and November 2005, was plotting to bomb various targets in an attempt to pressure the Australian government to withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

To fund the group, some members had allegedly stolen cars and sold them to raise money. Other funds had come from frauds committed against non-Muslims for which Benbrika was alleged to have granted fatwa or Islamic ruling.

The court was told that in May 2005, a police undercover agent, codenamed S1039, posed as a Muslim of Turkish origin and was introduced to the group.

He attended Benbrika’s religious classes and played his role so convincingly that he eventually had long private meetings with the cell leader.

Tit for tat
Benbrika trusted S1039 and, together, they went on a bomb-testing trip in October 2004 to a remote part of Mt Disappointment forest in Kilmore where they blew up a small version of a planned 500kg chemical-based bomb.

Tapes, secretly recorded by S1039, alleged that Benbrika had earlier discussed jihad being pursued by Muslims overseas in retaliation for “atrocities committed against innocent Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere”.

Benbrika told S1039 that violent jihad was justified in Australia because the country had joined forces with the US in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He was also heard bragging about what he hoped to achieve. “We’ll damage buildings, blast things … we’ll think big, not small,” he was recorded as saying in a tape.

Shockingly, the gruesome evidence of the group’s intention was an extract of the exchange of conversations in one tape between Benbrika and Merhi, the would-be Australia’s first suicide bomber.

Benbrika: If they kill our kids, we kill (inaudible) little kids.

Merhi: The innocent ones?

Benbrika: The innocent ones. Because he (referring to former Prime Minister John Howard) kills innocent ones.

Merhi: And we send a message back to them.

Benbrika: That’s it.

Merhi: Eye for an eye.

Benbrika: So the jihad exists here.

Describing the case as the most successful terrorist prosecution that Australia has ever seen, Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland said he believed all the agencies had done an outstanding job given “the complexities involved in the fine line of gathering intelligence and the fine line of gathering evidence, which is admissible in court proceedings”.

“I would be naïve to discount the prospect of a terrorist attack in Australia,” he declared. “Clearly, a terrorist attack in Australia is possible.”

Jeffrey Francis is editorial consultant, Australasia-Pacific Media

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