Tip- off led cops to buried ter­ror arse­nal

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - AVA BENNY- MOR­RI­SON

A STOCK­PILE of weapons buried in bush­land by a ter­ror­ist cell was dis­cov­ered on Syd­ney’s west­ern fringes while the ex­trem­ists were on trial for con­spir­ing to carry out an at­tack.

The arse­nal, con­cealed in PVC pipes and buried near Bankstown Air­port, was qui­etly dug up by po­lice and the haul was never made public.

It was a ma­jor break­through for counter-ter­ror­ism in­ves­ti­ga­tors, who be­lieved mem­bers of the no­to­ri­ous Pen­den­nis ter­ror group were plan­ning to in­flict a mass-ca­su­alty ter­ror­ist at­tack.

Nine men who made up the Syd­ney cell had been amass­ing chem­i­cals, bomb-mak­ing ma­te­ri­als and guns be­fore their ar­rest in 2005. While po­lice seized some weapons dur­ing sweep­ing raids in Novem­ber, 2005, of­fi­cers knew there were more hid­den some­where.

It can now be re­vealed that a tip-off in 2008 led of­fi­cers to the

buried stash. It in­cluded a num­ber of firearms and thou­sands of rounds of am­mu­ni­tion.

At the time, Omar Ja­mal, Ab­dul-Rakib Hasan, Mo­hammed Elo­mar, Moustafa Cheikho and Khaled Cheikho were on trial for con­spir­ing to com­mit an act of ter­ror­ism. Four other men, in­clud­ing Khaled Shar­rouf, pleaded guilty to other of­fences.

Mem­bers of the cell bought PVC pipes from hard­ware stores as they grew in­creas­ingly para­noid po­lice were poised to raid their homes in Novem­ber, 2005.

Cheikho also pur­chased a metal de­tec­tor, which po­lice be­lieved would be used to re­cover the buried weapons.

Am­mu­ni­tion re­cov­ered from a raid id in i 2005.

Replica firearms found at ter­ror tar­get Mo­hamed Elo­mar's home dur­ing coun­tert­er­ror­ism raids in Novem­ber, 2005.

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