Benbrika Terror Trial: Cell Leader 'Encouraged Crime'

* You bet he did. Benbrika follows his prophet and takes his religion seriously:

THE alleged leader of a Muslim terror cell was a religious teacher who encouraged followers to commit fraud, a court has heard.

* His shyster knows what it takes to be a leader:

“He doesn’t have the qualities of a leader,” Mr Trevor Wraight, appearing for co-accused Aimen Joud, 23, told Australia’s largest terrorist trial today. 

* Link to the AGE: Case against terror accused ‘circumstantial’

* Terror trial star witness ‘a liar’

Beginning his closing address in the case, Mr Wraight said Abdul Nacer Benbrika, 48, was a harsh, strict, religious “egomaniac” who was able to make young Muslims feel empowered at a time when they were feeling paranoid and in the minority. 

But he and his 11 followers were not a terrorist organisation, Mr Wraight told the Victorian Supreme Court. (Of course not, they’re just a religious prayer group…)

He said Mr Joud was a young man and at times did say some “stupid things” in conversations that were secretly recorded by police and had some documents downloaded from the Internet. 

But there was no evidence the group intended to commit any acts of terrorism, as alleged by the Crown. 

“He and this group did nothing,” Mr Wraight said. He said the alleged group had not  committed any  acts of violence or terrorism.

“In relation to acts of violence and terrorism, this group did nothing,” Mr Wraight said.

 (Not yet. They got caught before they could do anything…)

Mr Joud, Mr Benbrika and 10 other Melbourne Muslim men have pleaded not guilty to a range of terrorism charges, including being members of a terrorist organisation. 

The trial before Justice Bernard Bongiorno is continuing.

Gary Hughes / The Australian