x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Australian pleads guilty to bombing plot

An Australian man has admitted being part of a group led by radical Islamic cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika which planned to bomb sports events.

An Australian man has admitted being part of a terror cell which plotted to kill thousands of people by bombing major sports events, just moments before his retrial. Islamic convert Shane Kent, 33, pleaded guilty to being a member of a group led by radical Islamic cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika, who told his followers they could kill women and children in the pursuit of holy war. Kent also admitted involvement in the cell's plans for a bomb attack on sports events including the Australian Football League's 2005 Grand Final, which attracted 92,000 fans and a television audience of millions.

The former forklift truck-driver was about to face a retrial on the charges, which he previously denied, after a Supreme Court jury last September failed to reach a verdict. Kent, wearing a grey shirt and black jacket, looked down as the charges were read and replied "guilty" to each. Six members of the cell, as well as Benbrika, were last year found guilty on related charges in Australia's largest ever terrorism trial.

Benbrika was jailed for 15 years and the six followers received minimum terms of up to seven-and-a-half years. Another man, Izzydeen Atik, pleaded guilty in August 2007 and was jailed for five-and-a-half years. The men referred to themselves as mujahedeen, or holy warriors, and considered violent jihad an integral part of their religious obligations, Judge Bernard Bongiorno said, sentencing Benbrika and the other men in February.

According to evidence at his first trial, Kent, who converted to Islam at 19, undertook two months of paramilitary training in the use of firearms and explosives in an undisclosed country. His lawyers told the court today he was receiving psychiatric treatment for acute depression and anxiety. He will face a sentencing hearing on August 17. *AFP