Melbourne, Monday lunchtime: Muslim family and supporters of accused Christmas Day terror plot suspects leave court wearing head-to-toe burqas
- There was heavy police presence at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday
- Three brothers, 22, 23 and 24, appeared on terrorism charges
- They were accused of planning to bomb Melbourne landmarks on Christmas Day
- Supporters and relatives of the charged men were seen leaving the courthouse
Muslim family members and supporters of four men accused of planning to bomb Melbourne landmarks on Christmas Day have left court wearing full-body burqas.
One of two brothers accused of planning to bomb Melbourne landmarks on Christmas Day may not have been a part of an alleged Islamic State-inspired terror plan, but he was aware of it, police say.
Hamza Abbas, 22, his 23-year-old brother Ibrahim Abbas, Ahmed Mohamed, 24, and 26-year-old Abdullah Chaarani appeared before Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with terrorism offences.
Family and supporters in burqas leave Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday as two men face charges of planning to bomb Melbourne landmarks on Christmas Day
Supporters of the men leave court at lunchtime, before they appeared on charges of planning to commit terror attacks on Melbourne landmarks on Christmas Day in 2016
The men have each been charged with preparing or planning a terrorist act, and face a five-day committal hearing that will determine if they should stand trial.
The men are accused of planning to use an improvised explosive device and other weapons to target Flinders Street Station, Federation Square and St Paul’s Cathedral in December 2016.
Supporters and relatives of the men were seen leaving the courthouse on Monday afternoon, dressed in black, full-length burqas amid a heavy police presence outside the building.
A family member of one of the men charged over alleged terror plot leaves the courthouse
A woman in a blue hijab leaves the Melbourne courthouse as four men face serious terror plot charges
High presence: Policemen guard Melbourne Magistrates Court ahead of the men facing terrorist plot charges
Surrounded: Multiple police stood outside court on Monday morning before the four men appeared for a commital hearing an the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court
But a member from the Joint Counter Terrorism Team says he believed Hamza Abbas may not have played the same role as his older brother Ibrahim in the alleged plot.
Under cross-examination by defence barrister Julian McMahon, federal agent Lindsay Hall said there is no evidence Hamza Abbas attempted to build an improvised explosive device.
There is also no evidence the 22-year-old possessed or purchased any materials, such as chemicals or machetes, he said.
‘Is there any evidence linking Hamza Abbas to the conspiracy?’ Mr McMahon said.
‘No, there’s not,’ Mr Hall said.
But the agent says Hamza Abbas was aware of the alleged conspiracy.
Mr Hall said the counter terrorism team began surveilling Hamza Abbas on December 16, 2016 – six days before he was arrested.
On watch: The men are accused of plotting to attack a number of Melbourne landmarks on Christmas Day, 2016
Investigators observed him accompanying a co-accused to a chemist, where some peroxide was purchased by the co-accused.
Hamza Abbas was also part of a trip his three co-accused took to Federation Square on December 20.
These women in black burqas declined to speak with journalists outside the courthouse
Terrorist acts: Two men accused of planning to bomb Melbourne landmarks on Christmas Day
During a record of interview following the men’s arrests, Mr Hall asked Hamza Abbas about the visits to Federation Square and the chemist.
‘I think the three boys were planning a terrorist attack,’ the agent said to Hama Abbas.
Mr Hall on Monday said Hamza Abbas did not appear to be as close to the other co-accused as his brother Ibrahim.
‘It just seemed more plausible to me at that point that the conversations were taking place in front of him, with him as less of a participant in the conversation,’ Mr Hall told the court.
The committal hearing before Magistrate Peter Mealy will resume on Tuesday.
Covered: Supporters left the court house with their identities completely concealed behind black clothing