Islamic Terrorism in India

Most Muslims are not terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims

6 Australian Muslims jailed on terrorist plot to bomb and kill thousands

Posted by jagoindia on February 4, 2009

Australian Muslim cleric, six others jailed on terror charges
20 hours ago

MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — A Muslim cleric and six followers were jailed for up to 15 years Tuesday for forming an Australian terror cell that plotted bomb attacks designed to kill thousands.

The organisation fostered and encouraged its members to engage in violent jihad — to perform a terrorist act,” judge Bernard Bongiorno told Victoria state’s Supreme Court after Australia’s biggest terrorism trial.

Firebrand cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika, 48, was jailed for 15 years, of which he must serve at least 12 years, while his followers received minimum terms of between four and seven-and-a-half years.

Algerian-born Benbrika had urged them to target large crowds at sports matches or a train station to pressure the Australian government to withdraw its soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan, the court heard.

Benbrika had said it was “permissible to kill women, children and the aged,” prosecutors said. Material seized from the group included bomb-making instructions and video tapes with messages from Osama bin Laden.

The men referred to themselves as mujahedeen, or holy warriors, and considered violent jihad an integral part of their religious obligations, said Bongiorno.

They were arrested in November 2005 after the government strengthened laws to detain those in the early stages of planning terror acts after the London transport bombings in July that year.

Describing Benbrika as an “unskilled fanatic,” Bongiorno said he sought explosives training from an undercover police officer and “all of the evidence points inexorably to a conclusion that he maintains his position with respect to violent jihad.”

Benbrika was so committed to violent jihad, Bongiorno said, that he had talked about continuing the group’s activities behind bars if its members were jailed.

While the group had not chosen a specific target or carried out an attack, the judge said they had shown no remorse, and did not appear to have renounced their beliefs.

“The existence of the… terrorist organisation constituted a significant threat that a terrorist act would be or would have, by now, been committed here,” the judge said.

“The absence of an imminent, let alone an actual, terrorist attack does not mean that condign punishment is not warranted in this case.”

Remy Ven de Wiel, defending Benbrika, had argued the defendants were not terrorists but young men learning about Islam from a self-styled sheikh who “couldn’t organise a booze-up in a brewery.”

He told the court his client was a braggart and did nothing more than talk about jihad, or holy war.

“The Muslims in Australia have a sense of powerlessness and political impotence and they express themselves,” Van de Wiel had told the jury.

But after eight months of evidence the jurors found Benbrika guilty of directing a terrorist organisation and the other six — Aimen Joud, 24, Fadl Sayadi, 28, Abdullah Merhi, 23, Ezzit Raad, 27, Ahmed Raad, 25 and Amer Haddara, 29 — guilty of being members.

Ahmed Raad, Ezzit Raad and Joud were also convicted of intentionally making funds available to a terrorist organisation, while Joud and Benbrika were found guilty of possessing a CD connected with the preparation of a terrorist act.

Bongiorno jailed Joud and Ahmed Raad for a minimum seven-and-a-half years each, Sayadi for six years, Ezzit Raad for five years and nine months, Haddara for four-and-a-half years and Merhi for four years.

An eighth man, Izzydeen Atik, pleaded guilty in August 2007 and was jailed for five-and-a-half years.
Australian Muslims jailed on terrorism charges
Asia-Pacific News
Feb 3, 2009, 3:56 GMT

Sydney – An Australian cleric and six of his followers were jailed Tuesday for forming a terrorist cell that police allege plotted to bomb the 100,000 spectators at the 2005 rugby cup final in Melbourne.

The Islamists were rounded up in November 2005 and found guilty in September 2008.

Algerian-born Abdul Nacer Benbrika, 48, who told his followers it was ‘permissible to kill women, children and the aged’ in the cause of jihad, was sentenced to 15 years for intentionally directing the activities of a terrorist organization.

His followers, aged 23-29, were jailed for between four years and seven-and-a-half years.

Judge Bernard Bongiorno told the court that the claim the group had plotted to blow up the Melbourne Cricket Ground was not proven because a witness at the trial had been deemed to be unreliable.

During the six-month trial, the jury heard 50 witnesses and listened to excerpts from 482 secretly recorded conversations among men who declared they wanted to ‘do something’ to honour their religion.

Bongiorno said father-of-seven Benbrika had shown no remorse and that ‘all the evidence points to the conclusion that he maintains his position with respect to violent jihad.’

Police said the group watched videos of beheadings in Iraq and read books glorifying the hijackers who flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York.

The arrest of Benbrika and his followers came days after Australia updated its terrorism laws so that cases could be brought against those thought to be plotting a terrorist attack who may not have fixed on a specific target.

Prior to their sentencing, only three Australians had been convicted of terrorism offences.

Jack Roche, a British-born Muslim convert, has been released after serving four years of a nine-year sentence for plotting the truck-bombing of the Israeli embassy in Canberra. Roche was picked up in the raids that followed the bombings in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2002.

Pakistan-born architect Khalid Lodhi was jailed for a minimum of 15 years in 2006 for plotting a terrorist attack.

Last year former airport baggage-handler Belal Khazaal was jailed for publishing a terrorism how-to manual on the internet.

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