Australia

Australia convicts three over terror plot on army base

Reuters/Mick Tsikas

Three men have been found guilty of plotting to attack an army base with high-powered weapons in the Australian city of Sydney. The Supreme Court in Melbourne said the men, who were of either Somali or Lebanese origin, were planning to shoot as many people as possible at the Holsworthy military barracks, in the city’s west.

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The Supreme Court in Melbourne heard that the men, who have been linked with Islamic extremists in Somalia, planned to continue their rampage until they were killed or captured.

Melbourne men Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, 34, Nayef El Sayed, 26, both of Lebanese descent, and Somali-origin Saney Edow Aweys, 27, were found guilty of conspiring to plan a terrorist act, which carries a possible life term.

Two other men, Somali-origin Abdirahman Mohamud Ahmed, 26, and Yacqub Khayre, 23, were found not guilty after the three-month trial.

They hugged their co-defendants before leaving the dock.

"I think justice has been served," Ahmed said, adding that the three convictions were "unfortunate, but this is God's will”.

Crown prosecutor Nick Robinson earlier said the plot was hatched between February and August last year, when the five were arrested in a swoop involving hundreds of police in Melbourne.

He said one of the accused visited Somalia to seek a fatwa, or religious decree, for the attack, adding they had condemned Australia's involvement in the war in Afghanistan and believed the country was oppressing Muslims.

The arrests highlighted security standards at army bases, and police said the planned attack would have been the worst in Australian history.

 

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