Sydney, Nov. 14 (AFP): Three young men have been found guilty of plotting terror attacks in Australia’s second-largest city, intending to inflict mass casualties during the Christmas festive season.
The court was told the men – Hamza Abbas (23), Ahmed Mohamed (25) and Abdullah Chaarani (27) – bought machetes and ingredients to make homemade bombs, and wanted to target major Melbourne sites including a train station and a church.
The verdict came as Australians were reeling from last Friday’s Islamic State-inspired knife attack and attempted car bombing in Melbourne, which left two dead including the attacker.
Hamza Abbas’ older brother Ibrahim Abbas pleaded guilty earlier this year to the Christmas plot, which was to be carried out in December 2016.
The Supreme Court of Victoria jury decision was handed down in early November but only permitted to be published Wednesday after the lifting of suppression orders.
Ibrahim Abbas had told the court he “wanted to make sure that the casualties would be high”, Melbourne’s Herald Sun reported. Police uncovered the plot after monitoring the Australian-born men’s phone conversations, text messages and emails, and all four were arrested on December 22, 2016.
Prosecutors had also alleged a link to the Al-Qaeda magazine Inspire’s article “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom”, which was found on one of the men’s phones.
Then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called their plans “one of the most substantial terrorist plots that have been disrupted over the last several years”.
Authorities say more than a dozen terrorist attacks have been prevented in recent years. The men are due to be sentenced at a later date, and face life imprisonment.