Australian jihadists jailed over terrorism plot


Sydney : Five Sydney men jailed for stockpiling chemicals and plotting a terrorist attack were supporters of Osama bin Laden and showed no remorse during their trial, a court was told Monday.

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They smiled at each other when the verdicts were read.

The men, aged 25-44, were given sentences of 17 to 21 years for conspiring to commit a terrorist act. Four other men who were also arrested in Sydney in November 2005 pleaded guilty to the charges and have been sentenced.

Also in November 2005, six Melbourne men were arrested and charged with terrorism offences. They were found guilty and imprisoned.

The mass arrests came days after Australia updated its terrorism laws so that cases could be brought against those thought to be plotting a terrorist attack, but who may not have fixed on a specific target.

The five Sydney men were convicted in October after a 10-month trial in which the jury viewed more than 3,000 exhibits and heard from more than 300 witnesses. Jurors were taken through 18 hours of intercepted phone calls and 30 days of surveillance tapes.

During 16 months, the five suspects had used false names to buy chemicals and open mobile phone accounts. They had amassed enough arms and ammunition for 37 hours of continuous firing, police said.

The prosecution had argued that the five had “step-by-step instructions on how to make bombs capable of causing large-scale death and destruction”.

Justice Anthony Whealy described their motivation as “intolerant, inflexible religious conviction” and said they had shown contempt for the Australian government, its leaders and laws.

Whealy said the men glorified terrorism mastermind Osama bin Laden and possessed graphic material showing Al Qaeda hostages being beheaded.

“One particular feature of this trial was the fact that a considerable volume of extremist material was held by each offender in common with the other conspirators,” the judge said.