Nine face Sydney jihad plot – SMH – 06 Mar.07

Tight security outside the court house.
Photo: Peter Rae

A Sydney court has been told nine terror suspects possessed the ingredients and instructions to construct explosive devices capable of killing and causing massive damage.

The committal hearing for the nine Sydney men heard today that they had all conspired to prepare for an act of terrorism.

In her opening address, prosecutor Wendy Abraham QC told Penrith Local Court the men were Islamic extremists determined to carry out violent “jihad” to protect Islam.

“They believed Islam was under attack,” Ms Abraham told the court.

“Violence was the primary tool of their jihad.”

Ms Abraham said while the men – Mohammed Ali Elomar, Mazen Touma, Abdul Rakib Hasan, Khaled Cheikho, Moustafa Cheikho, Khaled Sharrouf, Mirsad Mulahalilovic, Omar Baladjam and Mohammed Jamal – used false names to purchase many of the ingredients for highly sensitive explosives such as TATP and HMTD, many of the components had still not been recovered.

Ms Abraham told Magistrate Michael Price the men had been prepared to coerce and intimidate the Australian government and the public by violent acts of terror.

She said the evidence would prove all nine men worked together in their alleged conspiracy.

Ms Abraham said police had retrieved documents from Elomar’s house in Condell Park in Sydney’s south-west which included recipes and instructions for the construction of TATP and HMTD from household and commercial ingredients such as citric acid.

Documents in Arabic, with titles such as Come In And Learn Bombing, and Security And Intelligence, also contained extremist and instructional advice targeting embassies and other buildings, Ms Abraham told the court.

She said other documents found in ASIO and Australian Federal Police raids during Operation Pendennis in late 2005 also contained advice on sabotage and counter-surveillance.

The men were charged after the raids in November 2005 with conspiring to make explosives in preparation for a terrorist attack.

The nine accused men arrived at Penrith Local Court this morning amid intense security, and were flanked by a heavy police guard as they entered the modified courtroom from a back entrance via the Penrith police station.

Dressed in Islamic robes, they identified themselves to Magistrate Price from behind a glass panel in a 24-seat dock.

Six police accompanied them in the dock, which had been specially glassed in as part of major renovations to the courtroom to accommodate the strict security measures.

A handful of their relatives and friends filed through the airport-type security into the courtroom but could not see the suspects from the upstairs viewing gallery sitting directly above the dock.

On his way out at the lunchtime adjournment, one of the suspects’ supporters yelled “Allah Akbar” (God is great) through the wall of the courtroom to the suspects.

Heavy security was in place before their arrival, with armed police standing guard outside the courthouse, where vehicles and drains had been checked earlier in the day.

The hearing, to determine whether the men will face trial, is expected to run for up to three months.


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