Five men are facing life in prison after having been found guilty in an Australian court of conspiring to commit acts in preparation for a terrorist attack.
Men found guilty of Australian terror plot
SYDNEY // Five men were convicted today of plotting a terrorist attack in Australia, after stockpiling bomb-making instructions and purchasing explosive chemicals in Australia's largest terrorist conspiracy. A jury deliberated for a month before finding the men guilty of conspiring to commit acts in preparation for a terrorist attack. Each face a maximum sentence of life in prison. During the trial, which began in November 2008, prosecutor Richard Maidment told the jury in New South Wales state supreme court that the men planned to use explosive devices or firearms to commit "extreme violence" in a bid to force Australia's government to change its policy on Middle East conflicts.
Justice Anthony Whealy restricted the media from publishing the men's names on the internet. The men, aged between 25 and 44, were arrested in a series of raids on their homes in 2005. Mr Maidment said during the trial that the raids turned up bomb-making instructions and militant Islamist material including footage of planes flying into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and images of beheadings.
The prosecutor also said the men purchased explosive chemicals and guns between July 2004 and November 2005. The jury, which viewed more than 3,000 exhibits and heard from more than 300 witnesses, was also told one man participated in a terrorist-run paramilitary training camp in Pakistan, and three others attended similar camps in New South Wales to prepare for an attack. Lawyers for the men argued there were innocent explanations for the material.
Outside court, supporters of some of the men shouted angrily after the verdict. Mr Whealy had instructed the jury to put aside any prejudices when coming to its verdict, and to remember the Muslim faith was not on trial. The sentencing hearing was scheduled to begin on December 14. * AP