Three con­victed in ter­ror plot on Aus­tralian army base

The Pak Banker - - International -

MEL­BOURNE: Three men who be­lieved Is­lam was un­der threat from Western na­tions were con­victed in an Aus­tralian court Thurs­day of plot­ting a sui­cide at­tack against a Syd­ney army base.

The men - Aus­tralian cit­i­zens of So­mali or Le­banese ori­gin - were con­victed in Vic­to­ria state Supreme Court of con­spir­ing to plot a ter­ror­ist at­tack, and could face life in prison. Two other men were found not guilty of the same charge.

The five men were ar­rested in pre-dawn raids in the south­ern city of Mel­bourne in 2009.

Po­lice said the group planned to send a team of men with au­to­matic ri­fles on a sui­cide at­tack against Holswor­thy Bar­racks, an army base on the out­skirts of Syd­ney. Of­fi­cials said the men were mo­ti­vated by a be­lief that Is­lam was un­der at­tack from the West, and planned to keep on shoot­ing un­til they were killed.

Dur­ing the trial, pros­e­cu­tors said the men were up­set about Aus­tralia's in­volve­ment in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Aus­tralia be­came a staunch U.S. ally in the war on ter­ror­ism af­ter Sept. 11.

Pros­e­cu­tors said one of the men vis­ited So­ma­lia in the hopes of gain­ing ap­proval for the at­tack from an Is­lamic cleric. The men were ac­cused of hav­ing ties to al-Shabab, So­ma­lia's pow­er­ful al-Qaidalinked mili­tia group. Had the plot been suc­cess­ful, Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Tony Ne­gus said it would have been the most se­ri­ous at­tack ever car­ried out in Aus­tralia.

Ter­ror­ism is ex­tremely rare in Aus­tralia, though dozens of Aus­tralians have died in ter­ror­ist attacks over­seas, mostly in In­done­sia, in­clud­ing the 2002 Bali night­club bomb­ings. -Ap

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