EVIDENCE in the trial of five men accused of terrorist conspiracy presented a “huge mosaic” and a “jigsaw puzzle” which when put together might present a picture of guilt, Crown counsel told the NSW Supreme Court in Parramatta.

Richard Maidment, SC, beginning his final address to the jury, said that the five accused, Mohamed Ali Elomar, Abdul Rakib Hasan, Khaled Cheikho, Moustafa Cheikho and Mohammed Omar Jamal were not “full-time terrorists”.

“Nor do we say the only thing they thought about was extremist material,” he said yesterday. “But the very fact that they shared it would support our contention.”

The five, who went on trial before Justice Anthony Whealey last November, have pleaded not guilty of having, between mid-2004 and November 2005, conspired to prepare a terrorist act or acts.

Mr Maidment said one element in the mosaic was the figure of the radical Melbourne cleric Sheikh Bakr, whom Elomar and Hasan have visited. The involvement of Sheikh Bakr was significant because of the views he had expressed such as in an ABC interview on August 3, 2005, when he said that Islam forbade the killing of “innocent people”.

Asked whether he thought anyone in Australia was not innocent, Sheikh Bakr had replied that when Muslim lands were invaded, it was the duty of Muslims to help those who had been attacked. He had also condemned the actions of the Australian Government in sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The utterances of Sheikh Bakr, to whom many Muslims had turned for guidance, did provide a “context” in which the actions of the accused now before the court could be “reasonably viewed”, he said.

Telephone intercepts made of members of the accused group indicated that they were aware of the possibility that they were being monitored.

“They were careful what they said on the phone,” Mr Maidment said. “It was not surprising that they were not heard saying, ‘and let us meet to conspire to prepare a terrorist act’.”

A further element in the mosaic was “constructional material” that had been distributed including advice on how to make a bomb or a detonator.

In transactions and dealings they undertook during the period they were under surveillance, members of the group had used false names, false addresses, and “false phones”.

Sometimes, the alleged conspirators acted and spoke in a way that indicated they were aware of surveillance and they wanted to do things in secret.

In one case, a police officer just happened to be near a Padstow hardware store when Hasan had ordered chemicals. Four days later, on November 5, 2005, when Hasan returned to pick up his order, he had spotted surveillance officers.

A series of SMS messages involving Elomar and Khaled Cheikho “were related to the parcelling and hiding of tools that the accused were accumulating for the pursuit of an objective of a particular agreement,” he said, adding that days before the arrests the accused had accumulated silver tape, PVC pipes and shovels. The hearing resumes today.