* That’s about half of the accused. Can we get a picture of the perps now?
No? Why not? Why so coy?
A jury Monday convicted a Muslim cleric and five of his followers of forming a terrorist group in Australia that allegedly considered assassinating the prime minister and attacking major sporting events.
Four other men were found innocent of being members of the group and the jury was still deliberating on charges against two more, as verdicts were delivered in Australia’s largest terrorist trial.
No attack took place, but prosecutors alleged the group, based in Australia’s second-largest city of Melbourne, intended to undertake “violent jihad,” and identified railway stations and sports fields as possible targets.
During the long-running trial, prosecutors alleged the group had talked about launching an attack at a football final that attracts close to 100,000 people each year, or the Formula One Grand Prix race held annually in the southern city.
They also allegedly discussed killing former Prime Minister John Howard, who ordered Australian troops to join the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
All of the suspects had pleaded not guilty. Defense lawyers painted the suspects as disgruntled men whose bravado led to talk about violent attacks but who had no ability to carry out such acts.
The men found guilty are yet to be sentenced. They face life terms in prison.
They included Abdul Nacer Benbrika, a 48-year-old Algerian-born cleric who was allegedly the leader of the terrorist cell.
Prosecutors alleged Benbrika urged his followers to launch an attack to force the Australian government to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. He allegedly told them that at an attack needed to kill at least 1,000 people to achieve this aim, and that it was permissible to kill women, children and the elderly.
Benbrika’s lawyer Remy Van de Wiel told reporters outside the court he did not know yet if his client would appeal the verdict.
During the trial, Victorian Supreme Court Justice Bernard Bongiorno warned jurors that the testimony of at least one prosecution witness was unsafe because the witness was known to be a liar.
Benbrika guilty on terror charges
A MELBOURNE Muslim cleric has been found guilty of leading and being a member of a terrorist organisation.
After deliberating for 21 days, jurors today found Abdul Nacer Benbrika, 48, guilty on all three charges against him.
The charges include intentionally being a member of a terrorist organisation, intentionally directing the activities of a terrorist organisation and possessing a compact disk connected with the preparation of a terrorist act.
The Supreme Court jury also found another five men guilty and acquitted four men of terrorism-related charges.
The trial, which started in February, is the longest and most complex terrorism case in Australia.
The prosecution has claimed that the 12 Melbourne Muslim men allegedly plotted to wage violent jihad on Australian soil, including attacking sporting events.
Aimen Joud, 23, Fadl Sayadi, 28, Abdullah Merhi, 22, Ezzit Raad, 26, and Ahmed Raad, 24, were all found guilty of being a member of a terrorist organisation.
Merhi, Bassam Raad, 26, and Shoue Hammound, 28, were found not guilty of intentionally providing resources to a terrorist organisation.
Hany Taha, 33, Hammoud, Bassam Raad and Majed Raad, 23, were found not guilty of intentionally being a member of a terrorist organisation.
Taha was found not guilty of attempting to intentionally make funds available to a terrorist organisation.
The jury are still undecided on three counts.