Five on trial for Oz army attack plot

Men planned maximum casualties at Sydney base

The men, all Australian citizens with Somali and Lebanese background, planned to shoot as many people as possible in the planned suicide raid on the army base, prosecutor Nick Robinson told the Victorian Supreme Court in Melbourne.

The men believed that Islam was under attack from nations such as Australia which has troops in Afghanistan, the Australian Associated Press reported Robinson as telling the court.

One of the men travelled to Somalia seeking a fatwa, an Islamic ruling, to sanction the attack as the group could not get one from an Australian sheikh. “If I find way to kill the army, I swear to Allah the great I’m going to do it,” one of the men, Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, told undercover police, according to a transcript read to the court.

Fattal, 34, Saney Edow Aweys, 27, Yacqub Khayre, 23, Abdirahmin Mohamud Ahmed, 26, and Nayef El Sayed, 26, have all pleaded not guilty to conspiring to do acts in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act. Fattal had visited Holsworthy and described it as an easy target, according to Robinson, while another of the men was covertly recorded laying out their plans.

“There are about six guys... 20 minutes will be enough for us to take out five, six, 10... I don’t know. Until they will use up their weapons. Is that permissible?” Aweys said, according to transcript of secret telephone intercepts read to the court and reported by the AAP news agency.

The men were arrested in Melbourne in August 2009. Judge Betty King told the jury that the case was not about the religion of Islam, but whether the men were guilty of criminal charges.

Nothing to do with faith

“The Islamic faith is not on trial. It isn’t about being a Muslim,” said King. Australia’s biggest terrorism trial ended in February 2009, when Muslim cleric Abdul Naser Benbrika was jailed for 15 years for leading a cell that planned to bomb a 2005 football match in Melbourne. Altogether, 12 people were jailed over the plot.

The country has not suffered a peacetime attack on home soil since a bombing outside a Sydney hotel during a Commonwealth meeting in 1978 that killed three people. But 92 Australians were killed in the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings.

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