Men Plotted Oz Attack Of 'Extreme Violence'

Friday October 16, 2009
Alison Chung, Sky News Online

Five Muslim men have been found guilty of stockpiling chemical explosives and firearms intended for a terrorist attack after Australia's longest terror trial.

The men, who canot be named for legal reasons, spent months collecting chemicals, firearms and ammunition, a court in Sydney heard.

Raids on their homes found bomb-making instructions and militant Islamist material, including footage of the 9/11 terror attacks and images of beheadings.

Prosecutors said the "large quantities of literature supported indiscriminate killing, mass murder and martyrdom in pursuit of violent jihad".

The plot of "extreme violence" was hatched between July 2004 and November 2005 in an attempt to force Australia's government to change its policy on the Middle East, the court was told.

The men were "motivated by a perception that the participation of Australia in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were acts of aggression against the wider Muslim community", prosecutor Richard Maidment said.

Mr Maidment described the group as devout Muslims who believed Islam was under attack throughout the world.

During the 10-month trial at the New South Wales Supreme Court, the jury was shown more than 3,000 exhibits and heard from over 300 witnesses.

The jury was also told one of the men participated in a terrorist-run paramilitary training camp in Pakistan, and three others attended similar camps in New South Wales.

Lawyers for the men argued there were innocent explanations for much of the material seized during the raid and labelled the case "propagandist".

The prosecution did not reveal the supposed target for the attack.

Justice Anthony Whealy had urged jurors to put aside any prejudices when coming to their verdict, and to remember the Muslim faith was not on trial.

The men, aged between 25 and 44, showed little reaction to the verdict, but outside the high-security court there were angry scenes among supporters of the men.

"If they think this will stop terrorism, imprisoning these people, I don't think it will stop terrorism," a brother of one of the men told reporters.

Sentencing will take place on December 14.


Police foil 'suicide plot' to storm Australian army base

August 4, 2009
The Times

A group of Islamic extremists who were detained today planned a suicide attack on an Australian army base with the aim of killing as many soldiers as possible, a court was told.

One man has been charged with planning a terrorist act and police have been granted extra time to question another three men arrested this morning in a series of counter-terrorism raids across Melbourne.

About 400 police officers and members of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation swooped on 19 properties, detaining several men, all Australian citizens of Somali and Lebanese background, in the pre-dawn raids.

A fifth man, in custody on other matters, was also being questioned and police have not ruled out more arrests.

Police allege the group was at an advanced stage of preparing to storm army barracks in Sydney and Melbourne in retaliation for Australia’s military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Kevin Rudd, the Australian Prime Minister, said the discovery of the plot would not force him to pull troops out of Afghanistan.

He admitted the Afghan operation, which claimed its eleventh Australian life last month, was unpopular but said that it was necessary to cut off militant training opportunities.

"If we're to deal with the threat of terrorism at its various levels we must be dealing with where terrorists are trained," Mr Rudd said.

Members of the hardline group had been observed carrying out surveillance of Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney and of military bases in Victoria. Electronic surveillance also picked up discussions about how to obtain weapons to carry out what would have been the worst terror attack on Australian soil.

"The men’s intention was to get into the army barracks and kill as many as they could," Tony Negus, acting Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, said. "They were planning to carry out a suicide terror attack. . . a sustained attack on military personnel until they themselves were killed.”

Andrew Scipione, Commissioner of New South Wales Police, said that a terrorist attack on Sydney's Holsworthy Barracks was "likely imminent'' when police carried out the raids.

Melbourne Magistrates' Court heard how, during a seven-month-long investigation dubbed Operation Neath, police had gathered "voluminous" amounts of telephone intercept recording material, including text messages, about the planned attack.

Nick Robinson, prosecuting, told the court that the men, named as Nayaf El Sayed, Saney Aweys, Yacqub Khayre and Abdirahman Ahmed, planned to arm themselves and enter the Holsworthy base to try to kill as many soldiers as possible.

"To become self-proclaimed martyrs?" Peter Reardon, the magistrate, asked.

"Yes," Mr Robinson replied.

Text messages uncovered by investigators were read out to the court, including one sent from another suspect on March 24 that read: "Can you give me the address of the Australian A and the name of the train station."

Mr Robinson said another text message had been sent from a pay phone on March 27 giving directions to the Holsworthy base from the train station.

He said that CCTV footage showed that the suspect had "attended" the Holsworthy base on March 28. The man then allegedly sent a text message which read: "I strolled around... it is easy to enter."

Police believe the cell is linked to the Somali-based terror organisation al-Shabaab, a militant group affiliated to al-Qaeda. Members of the group recently travelled to Somalia to undergo training with the organisation, according to The Australian newspaper.

Operation Neath was launched after police intercepted a phone call between an Australian-Lebanese man they had been monitoring, and a Somali living in Melbourne, in which the Lebanese asked for help to travel to Somalia to fight with al-Shabaab, The Australian reported.

The Lebanese man’s calls had been monitored after he came to the attention of the authorities for espousing extremist views at his local mosque in Melbourne. Over the following months the police became increasingly concerned as the group discussed ways in which they could obtain weaponry and planned to seek a religious ruling supporting an attack on Holsworthy barracks.

Australian security services have been concerned for some time about the growing threat of extremist attacks on home soil.

Last year the federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, warned that a terrorist threat was just as likely "to emanate from disgruntled and alienated Australian youth as from an overseas organisation".

The most recent report by the Australian Security and Intelligence Organsiation (ASIO) also outlined the threat from "a small but potentially dangerous minority of Australians who hold extremist views and are prepared to act in support of their beliefs".

However, while police have suspected for some years that there were links between a minority of the country’s 16,000-strong Somali community and militants in their homeland the links had never been proven. A police investigation into extremist activities within the community in 2007 failed to establish any wrongdoing.

A terror analyst criticised the Australian government today for being complacent in its attitude to the terror threat at home.

Dr Anthony Bergin, director of research at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told The Times: "This plot underlines the need for a comprehensive counter-radicalisation strategy in Australia."

Despite security forces acknowledging that a growing number of alienated young Australian Muslims were being drawn to the extremist cause, he said, the government had developed no strategy that would give it an insight into how serious the problem might be.

"We simply don't know what is going on in those at-risk groups in Muslim neighbourhoods," said Dr Bergin. "We really lack a body of knowledge that would give us a good indication of what is going on at the local level."

Dr Bergin pointed out that a speech by Mr McClelland two weeks ago underlining the need for the government to focus on the risk from home grown extremists was the first speech by a minister devoted to the subject since the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001.

"This plot will provide a wake-up call that we can't be complacent about these issues," he said.

Australia has not suffered a peacetime attack on home soil since a bombing outside a Sydney hotel during a Commonwealth meeting in 1978 that killed three people. But 95 Australians have been killed in bomb attacks in Indonesia since 2002.

Operation Neath is the second largest terror investigation in Australia. In February, Abdul Nacer Benbrika, a fanatical cleric who planned to wage jihad by launching "terrible acts of violence", was sentenced to at least 12 years in jail after becoming the first person in Australia to be convicted of leading a terrorist organisation.

Plot to kill Howard revealed

The Courier-Mail
By James Madden

TWO Melbourne terror suspects discussed killing John Howard and his family, launching a large-scale attack at a football game and causing carnage at a train station as part of a religious war in Australia.

In a series of chilling conversations caught on police listening devices and revealed yesterday, self-styled Muslim cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika, 46, and 20-year-old Abdullah Merhi discussed the terror plot as payback for the deaths of Muslims.

"For example, if John Howard kills innocent Muslim families do we ... do we have to kill him and his family ... (and) his people, like at the football?" asked Mr Merhi. Mr Benbrika allegedly replied: "If they kill our kids, we kill little kids."

"We send a message back to them," Mr Merhi allegedly said.

"That's it, an eye for an eye," Mr Benbrika replied.

The conversations, recorded on September 24, were played to the Melbourne Magistrates Court during the unsuccessful bail applications of two of the accused men who were charged after last month's early-morning anti-terror raids in Melbourne.

The prosecution alleged that Mr Merhi went to see Mr Benbrika to seek the cleric's advice on whether it was best to "bring jihad" here or overseas.

According to the police surveillance transcripts, Mr Benbrika told Mr Merhi to be patient and that rather than working alone, he should work together with the group.

"You shouldn't just kill one or two or three," Mr Benbrika allegedly said, before advising him to consider doing something "close to the (train) station".

"Do a big thing," Mr Benbrika said. "Like Spain," Mr Merhi added, in an apparent reference to the terrorist attacks in Madrid in March last year, in which 191 people were killed when 10 bombs exploded on four trains during the morning peak hour.

Mr Merhi was also overheard asking Mr Benbrika - who is believed to be the spiritual leader of the 10-strong alleged terror cell in Melbourne - if committing to jihad would please God.

Mr Benbrika said it would, "because they are killing our brothers and Allah is telling us (to take revenge) according to the verse (the Koran)".

Mr Merhi allegedly replied: "I want in on everything."

Another of the accused terror suspects, 31-year-old Hany Taha, who was also refused bail yesterday, was said to be present during a conversation about "slaughtering police".

The court also heard Mr Benbrika had become infuriated by a rival Melbourne cleric preaching that al-Qa'ida leader Osama bin Laden was "on the wrong path".

According to Crown prosecutor Nick Robinson, Mr Benbrika spat each time the unnamed Muslim teacher's name was mentioned, and suggested his followers attack the man with a baton because it was thought he might have tipped off police about the group's activities. "How can this man who appears knowledgeable in faith say that Osama bin Laden is on the wrong path?" Mr Benbrika said.

The two men's lawyers unsuccessfully argued that their clients should be released on bail because of the expected long delay before their committal hearing, tentatively set down for June.

It was also put that both men had sworn on the Koran that they would adhere to whatever conditions were placed on them, should they be released on bail.

But magistrate Reg Marron said that while the prosecution's case was "not overwhelming", the alleged conversations involving Mr Merhi and Mr Benbrika showed some "disturbingly strong and reasonably assertive positions".

Mr Merhi and Mr Taha are among 10 Melbourne men charged last month with being members of a terrorist organisation. Eight of the 10 men are also charged with financing a terrorist organisation, and Mr Benbrika is charged with directing a terrorist organisation.

Mr Merhi and Mr Taha showed no emotion as they were refused bail. But Mr Merhi's 18-year-old wife Violet, who is due to give birth to the couple's first child in 10 days, left the courtroom in tears.

The 10 men will next appear in court in April.


Terror suspects in Australia targeted reactor, report says

The Associated Press

SYDNEY, Australia — Members of an alleged Islamic terror cell in Sydney stockpiled bomb-making materials, trained at Outback hunting camps and sized up Australia's only nuclear reactor as a possible target, a police report alleged Monday.

In a 20-page glimpse into Australia's biggest terror investigation, police said the eight suspects arrested last week had the know-how and were assembling chemicals, detonators, digital timers and batteries to carry out a major bomb attack.

A nuclear reactor used to make radioactive medical supplies on the edge of Sydney, Australia's biggest city, was listed as a possible target, according to the report.

The eight men have been charged with conspiring to make explosives for use in a terrorist act. Ten other men, including a radical Muslim cleric, were arrested in the city of Melbourne on charges of being members of a terror group. All 18 could face life imprisonment if convicted.

Police describe the cleric, Algerian-born Abdul Nacer Benbrika, also known as Abu Bakr, as the spiritual leader of both cells. The report says he told one of the Sydney men in custody: "If we want to die for jihad then we have to have maximum damage, maximum damage. Damage their buildings, everything, damage their lives."

Australia has never been hit by a serious terror attack, but its citizens have been targeted elsewhere. Islamic militants have been angered by the government's staunch support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq and for sending troops there and to Afghanistan.

The police report paints a picture of extremist Sunni Muslims accumulating a potentially lethal cocktail of products that have become the tools of terror bombers.

During a search of suspect Mohammed Elomar's home on June 27, police said, they found a computer memory stick containing instructions in Arabic for making TATP, or triacetone triperoxide — an unstable explosive made from commercially available chemicals such as hydrochloric and sulfuric acids, brake fluid and hydrogen peroxide.

Australian police have said TATP is similar to the explosives used by suicide bombers in the July 7 attacks that killed 56 people in London. British authorities have refused to confirm that.

Police said they found two dozen bottles of hydrogen peroxide solution stashed on public land behind the home of one detainee, Khaled Sharrouf.

In October, Sharrouf also was arrested for trying to steal six digital timers and approximately 132 batteries from a hardware store, police said.

Another alleged cell member, Abdul Rakib Hasan, tried to buy laboratory equipment and a 26.4-gallon cooler to be used for storing chemicals, the report said.

Two other men, whose identities were not released, visited an auto-parts wholesaler seeking to buy 53 gallons of brake fluid and 80 gallons of sulfuric acid, the report said.

"They were informed by the manager that the combination of sulfuric acid and brake fluid was a highly volatile mix" and asked for their business details, the report said. The men said they would come back the next day but never returned, it said.

The report also outlined steps taken by the cell to case potential targets and train for jihad, or holy war.


Australia approves monitoring inside mosques

By James Grubel

Reuters 8/24/05

Canberra - Australian Prime Minister John Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spies monitoring the nation's mosques.

He was speaking just hours before bidding farewell to a unit of Australian elite troops heading for combat duty in Afghanistan in a deployment sure to further upset many Muslims here.

A day after holding a summit with 13 moderate Australian Islamic leaders, Howard said the government had a right to know if parts of the Islamic community supported or preached violence, and he favoured infiltration of mosques and schools if needed.

Tuesday's summit agreed to examine the training of imams and what is taught in Islamic schools as part of a crackdown on the propagation of extremist views in the name of Islam.

But Education Minister Brendan Nelson said on Wednesday that Muslims who did not support Australian values should "clear out" and leave the country.

Howard said that while the government had no wish to interfere with the freedom and practice of religion, he supported sending people into mosques and Islamic schools to make sure nobody was promoting support for violence or extremism.

"We have a right to know whether there is, within any section of the Islamic community, a preaching of the virtues of terrorism, whether any comfort or harbour is given to terrorism within that community," Howard told Australian radio.

Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network convenor Waleed Kadous said Howard should be consulting more with the Muslim community.

"Such hardline talk only isolates some parts of the Muslim community even further and makes it harder for co-operation between the Muslim community and the government," Kadous said.

Australia has about 280 000 Muslims, who live mainly in the largest cities of Sydney and Melbourne.

A staunch US ally, Australia is reviewing its anti-terrorism laws and is considering moves to deport Muslim clerics who support violence as part of their religion.

On Wednesday Howard flew to the western city of Perth to bid farewell to 190 special forces troops who are returning to Afghanistan for the first time since late 2002 to join the hunt for Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents.

Defence Minister Robert Hill said they would have a similar role to their 2001 deployment, carrying out combat patrols in remote regions, reconnaissance and surveillance operations.

A group of 51 Australian Muslim organisations said this week that Australia's deployment of forces to Afghanistan and the continued presence of Australian forces in Iraq were key sources of tension within Australia's Islamic community.

Howard sent 1 550 troops to Afghanistan in 2001 to join the US-led military campaign that toppled Afghanistan's Taliban regime for harbouring al-Qaeda, the militant group blamed for the September 11, 2001, airliner attacks on the United States.

Australian special forces troops were involved in some of the earliest and fiercest fighting in Afghanistan, hunting down al-Qaeda and Taliban supporters, but Canberra withdrew its forces in late 2002.

An analysis of recent opinion polls published in June found that 58 percent of Australians supported contributing troops to the US-led war on terrorism, with 20 percent opposed.


Hate spread at mosque gates

By Richard Kerbaj


The Australian

Watchful ... guards at the Lakemba Mosque gates - Matt Turner

A RADICAL Islamic group is infiltrating Australian mosques, distributing inflammatory pamphlets urging Muslims to rise up against Australian troops in Iraq and support the insurgency.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is telling local Muslims that coalition forces in Iraq are responsible for the mosque bombing in Samarra last month that left the nation on the brink of civil war.

The group - a hardline political faction banned in Britain, Germany and other countries -- is using Friday prayer meetings, traditionally compulsory for all Muslims, to distribute flyers inciting hatred against the West.

According to one of the group's Arabic-English pamphlets, obtained by The Australian on Friday outside Lakemba Mosque in Sydney's southwest, the occupying forces in Iraq, which includes the 1320-strong Australian contingent, bombed the Shia mosque in Samarra.

"It is the occupying forces, with America at their head, who are behind the incidences of killing civilians, bombing markets and mosques, abducting scholars and killing those who are sincere to the Deen (religion)," says the four-page flyer.

The pamphlet blames the coalition forces for creating divisions between Sunnis and Shi'ites and driving a wedge between the two Islamic sects, historically opposed to each other's ideology and religious interpretation.

"What happened in Samarra was of the planning and execution of the occupying forces," the flyer says.

"However what is worse and more detestable is the occupying forces achieve their objective by making the Muslims, Sunni and Shia, fight among each other."

The circulation of such propaganda is typical of the Australian arm of Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation), which has praised suicide bombers as martyrs.

The radical group has been criticised by John Howard and investigated by ASIO.

ASIO told Attorney-General Philip Ruddock last year there was not enough evidence to designate Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organisation.

But the new anti-terror laws have lowered the threshold for proscription of organisations to include groups that advocate terrorist acts, rather than being involved in planning or carrying out terrorist acts.

Hizb ut-Tahrir's website says the party does not "advocate or engage in violence".

But the flyer has a different message, saying: "We urge you to make the calamity of Samarra as a motivator to repel the invaders and that you take them as enemies."

Mr Ruddock expressed alarm yesterday after being sent a copy of Hizb ut-Tahrir's flyer by The Australian.

"The Attorney-General would be concerned about any material distributed in our Australian community that would be seen to be advocating or inciting terrorism or violence," a spokeswoman said.

Hizb ut-Tahrir was set up by a Palestinian judge in 1953 to inspire the creation of a Khalifah (Caliphate) state ruled by a Muslim leader. The party's Sydney arm lists more that 200 members.

Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Wassim Doureihi refused to comment yesterday. However, one member of the group agreed to talk on condition of anonymity.

"The group tries to target the entire Muslim community (in Sydney) through different mosques," he said.

"Usually after Friday prayer, members hand out our pamphlets outside mosques."

Ahmad Kamaledine, president of the Lebanese Muslim Association, responsible for Lakemba Mosque, said he was opposed to Hizb ut-Tahrir circulating their flyers outside the mosque but had no authority to stop them.

"We don't support any type of material being handed out in the mosque," he said.

"However, we have no jurisdiction over what gets handed out outside the mosque, because it's in a public place."


Vindication for Howard, but still concern over terror laws

11 November 2005


SYDNEY: Prime Minister John Howard will be feeling vindicated after this week's raids, resulting in the arrests of 18 men suspected of terrorism offences.

Howard was pilloried a week ago when he revealed the existence of a specific terrorism threat and said he needed to rush through a small amendment to the law to help the police.

There was cynicism that he was exaggerating a terrorism threat to keep national security on the front pages, rather than his unpopular industrial relations law changes.

His announcement of the law change was also interpreted by some as a tip-off to terrorist plotters.

Among the critics was Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton.

"If John Howard feels the masses are not treating his latest terrorist scare as seriously as he would wish, he has only himself to blame. He has cried wolf too often, most notably with Saddam's non-existent weapons of mass destruction," Carlton wrote before the raids.

Victorian police commissioner Christine Nixon was quick after the Sydney and Melbourne arrests to exonerate Howard on the tip-off charge, saying they had not been compromised by his announcement.

On the industrial relations issue, politicians can be a sly bunch but it seems beyond belief that the biggest anti-terrorism operation in Australia's history, involving police and security officials from different states, would be co-ordinated as a ruse to get labour laws off the front page.

The extent of the terrorism threat won't be known until the men have been dealt with by the courts, but NSW Police Minister Carl Scully said he was satisfied "that this state was under an imminent threat of potentially a catastrophic terrorist act".

Police seized chemicals and unofficially said there was enough to make 15 bombs.

Despite the apparent vindication for Howard, a curious anomaly hangs over the issue.

The 18 men are being charged under existing legislation that was amended last week, closing a loophole and allowing police to make arrests without knowledge of a specific terrorist threat.

Yet the Howard government has far more draconian anti-terror laws before Parliament.

They include preventive detention orders that will allow authorities to hold terror suspects for 48 hours under federal laws and up to 14 days by state powers.

There are proposed control orders that will allow suspects and people who have trained with a terror organisation to be held for 12 months under house arrest or be forced to wear a tracking device - subject to judicial review and access to a lawyer.

And there is the revival of a sedition law, including an increase in jail time from three years to seven for those found guilty.

There are concerns, even in Howard's party, that the sedition provisions would see people prosecuted for uttering phrases that could be seen as disloyal to Australia.

Prominent Liberal backbench MP Malcolm Turnbull called the provisions "archaic".

The questions remain as to why the new laws are needed, if police seem satisfied that the current ones are considered sufficient to allow pre-emptive action against a potential threat.

Professor Hugh White, professor of strategic studies at Australian National University and a former deputy secretary of the Defence Department, told the Sydney Morning Herald:

"The government still has not put on the table why new powers outside the ordinary criminal processes are necessary in the fight against terrorism."

He said the lack of rigour in Australia's approach showed "how September 11 has destabilised policymaking,", allowing a vague sense of fear and anxiety to lead governments into fundamental changes to the nature of freedoms.

At the heart of concerns being expressed are the effect on the Muslim community in Australia. The men arrested are Muslims, with one possibl exception.

Muslims have said they fear attacks on individuals, their properties and mosques will increase as a result of the arrests.

The Herald said it was only with the co-operation of Muslim Australians that any extremist elements which might exist in that community could be deterred.

"The interests of Muslim Australians and other Australians are the same: the development of a free society in which the rule of law applies equally to all. They must stay the same."

In the Daily Telegraph, columnist Piers Akerman said senior Muslims should be talking to their people about the "open hatred and contempt members of their community have expressed towards Australia and the Western culture which they - or their parents - chose to live in".

He said Australia had opened its doors to Muslims, as it had to all religious groups, "but no other body has produced people who have responded so vehemently against the dominant culture as has the Islamic community".


Howard should convert to Islam: Bashir

By Geoff Thompson in Solo, Central Java

Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir says Prime Minister John Howard should become a Muslim if he wants to avoid going to hell.

The cleric was speaking after his release from a Jakarta prison where he had been serving a sentence related to the 2002 Bali bombings.

While holding a late night press conference in his Ngruki religious boarding school, Abu Bakar Bashir was asked by the ABC if he had a message for Mr Howard when the Prime Minister visits Indonesia later this month.

"I think John Howard should convert to Islam," he said.

"If he wants to be saved from hell, he needs to convert to Islam and God willing, he will be forgiven by Allah."

Secondly, he warned Australians to never try fighting Muslims because they will definitely lose.

"Maybe with God's permission, they can kill us, but they certainly can't beat Islam," he said.

He then warned Australian journalists not to twist his statement.



Pakistan Christian Post

AUSTRALIA. Two Christian pastors have been taken to court by the Islamic Council of Victoria and three Australian Muslims after making critical statements about the Islamic faith on a website and at a seminar for Christians held in March last year.

A complaint of religious vilification was made against the two Christian pastors, Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scot. The complaint deals with many issues, such as the nature of jihad, aspirations of Muslims in the west, and the connection between the laws of jihad and the treatment of non-Muslims under Islam.

The Victorian Racial and Religious Vilification Act was passed in 2001 and has yet to be fully put to the test. It was established in order to promote intercultural and interfaith harmony in Victoria, in support of democratic ideals, in itself a worthy aim. Victoria has established an Equal Opportunity Commission which is empowered to develop programs under this legislation. One of their programs, called "Stand up to Racism", promotes positive regard for Islam's stand on universal human rights.

The complaint against the two pastors has had to be mediated through this same Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission, but attempts at achieving conciliation failed. Following this the Islamic Council of Victoria brought the case before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, a legal court which has the power to impose a significant fine against the two pastors, if they are found guilty. The case is due to be heard at the Tribunal in mid-October 2003.

To pursue their complaint, the well-funded Islamic Council of Victoria has retained the services of the prestigious Australian law firm, Allens Arthur Robinson, which has offices in seven countries throughout the Asia-Pacific Region.

The case is one of the first to be brought under the new legislation and its result will set an important precedent which will have influence and ramifications not only in Victoria, but also in other parts of Australia. Many evangelical Christians in the state fear that the Islamic Council of Victoria is using the case to stifle all criticism of Islam or Muslims, in effect bringing in a pseudo-blasphemy law to protect Islam. Similar legislation against religious 'hate speech' is currently before parliament in both New Zealand and the UK and is prompting serious concern from libertarians and supporters of free speech who fear the similar misuse of such laws.


The fact that one of the defendants is Pastor Daniel Scot is bitterly ironic. Scot, a Pakistani Christian, became one of the first victims of Pakistan's notorious blasphemy laws when in 1986 he was charged with insulting the Islamicprophet Muhammad, which under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code carries a death sentence. The blasphemy laws have attracted widespread condemnation from human rights groups and the international community for their harsh punishments and the way they have been misused to target vulnerable religious minorities (

Scot had been threatened by the council of the college in Okara, Pakistan, where he worked, that a charge would be brought against him unless he converted to Islam. The charge was brought after he refused to do so and explained his belief that his spiritual salvation could come only from Jesus Christ, and not Muhammad.

Political pressure meant that Daniel was never prosecuted. However, he was forced to flee to Australia with his family to escape the threat of Islamic extremists who have since murdered four Christians accused of blasphemy in Pakistan.

Now seventeen years later, having fled religious discrimination in Pakistan, Scot again finds himself accused of a similar crime in Australia, the country in which he originally found refuge. This is an indication of the growing trend to place Islamic teaching and Muslim actions beyond the bounds of criticism, not only in the Islamic world, but also, as a result of misguided ideas of political correctness, in the West as well. It is a bitter twist that Scot, an Asian Christian, should face this accusation from three white Australian converts to Islam who unannounced attended the March 2002 seminar (intended for the religious instruction of Christians only - and as such should fall outside the remit of the Act) and took offence resulting in the complaint. In a painfully ironic reversal a law designed to prevent racial and religious abuse under which the Equal Opportunity Commission operates is being used by three white men to attack an Asian.


It is clear from the charges brought against Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scot, that both may well have been unwise in their choice of words, and over-the-top in some of their criticisms of Islamic teaching. However it would be a travesty of justice should their statements be found illegal in a country which claims to be a strong advocate of freedom of speech and expression. One of the grounds of the complaint is that Pastor Daniel Scot mentioned in a seminar that Muslim fundamentalists have the responsibility to "kill" apostates from Islam. This was cited in the complaint as unlawful vilification of Muslim believers.

This is despite the fact that the death penalty for apostates from Islam is an extremely well documented part of Islamic law (shari'a) and is well attested by Muslim sources both historically and today



Furthermore it is not merely a matter of language or legal niceties but a very real problem for thousands of converts around the world today which has resulted in many deaths attested to by numerous creditable human rights organizations. Nevertheless it seems that merely drawing attention to this problem may be considered a vilification of Islam; in future converts may have to suffer in silence and those who seek to draw attention to their plight may face prosecution for offending Muslim sensibilities.

However Muslims in Victoria may, in the future, find this law being used against them. For if drawing attention to the more unpalatable teachings of one particular religion is to be regarded as religious vilification, surely the actual expounding of those teachings will certainly attract prosecution under this law. The next time Qur'anic verses such as the famous sword verse, "But when the forbidden months are past, then fight them and slay the Pagans whereverye find them, and seize them and beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)" (9:5 A. Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary and Meaning) are quoted in a mosque, there may be anonymous pagans in the audience who take offence and bring a case against them for 'unlawful vilification'. Could the unpalatable verses of the Qur'an (together with those of the scriptures of other religions) be effectively banned in Victoria?

The two Australian pastors are seeking the support of international experts in Islam to assist in their defense.


Australian terror suspects bought chemicals, downloaded instructions for bomb making

By Meraiah Foley
March 6, 2007

SYDNEY, Australia – Nine men accused of Australia's largest terrorist conspiracy downloaded bomb-making instructions off the Internet and stockpiled chemicals to make lethal explosives because they believed Islam was under attack, a state prosecutor said Tuesday.

The nine were devotees of a radical Muslim cleric sympathetic to Osama bin Laden, and struck a pact to launch a terrorist attack because they felt their religion was under threat and needed to be defended at any cost, a pre-trial hearing heard Tuesday.

They were arrested in a series of 2005 raids in Sydney and the southern city of Melbourne, where cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika and other followers were also detained and now face separate charges of belonging to a terrorist group.

The nine men were formally indicted Tuesday on one charge each of conspiring between June 2004 and November 2005 to carry out a terrorist act.

A police report released at the time of the arrests listed Australia's only nuclear reactor, the Lucas Heights facility near Sydney used to make radioactive medical supplies, as a possible target. The reactor was not mentioned in Tuesday's hearing.

None of the suspects, who face a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted, entered a plea. The purpose of the hearing, expected to last weeks, was to allow the judge to decide whether there is enough evidence to send the men to a jury trial.

Prosecutor Wendy Abraham said the suspects had obtained large amounts of industrial chemicals that could be used in bomb-making, including hydrochloric and citric acids, glycerin, acetone and brake fluid.

They also had detonators and laboratory equipment such as beakers and rubber tubing to mix and store chemicals, and documents that were “extremist in nature,” Abraham said.

“They believed Islam was under attack,” Abraham told the court. “Violence was the primary tool of their jihad.”

Attorneys for the men did not comment Tuesday but have said they nine are innocent.

During a June 2005 raid on the house of one suspect, Mohammed Ali Elomar, authorities found a computer memory stick containing a 60-page document in Arabic that included instructions on how to make bombs and how to hide explosives near restaurants and government buildings, Abraham said.

The instructions included how to make TATP, the explosive used in the deadly 2005 London subway bombings that can be made from bleach, drain cleaner and acetone paint thinner, she said.

At the homes of two other suspects, Khaled Cheikho and Mirsad Mulahalilovic, authorities found magazines and press releases from al-Qaeda, videos of people being beheaded and transcripts of speeches by bin Laden, Abraham said.

The prosecution alleges the nine men were in routine contact with each other about the alleged plot, using mobile phones registered with fake names to communicate by encoded text messages.

Two of the suspects, Abdul Rakib Hasan and Khaled Sharrouf, allegedly used a mobile phone to arrange a meeting with Benbrika, the prominent Muslim cleric known for praising bin Laden as a “great man.”

During the meeting in Melbourne, Benbrika allegedly told the men they should be prepared to die.

“Everyone has to prepare to die or be jailed, but we have to be careful,” Abraham quoted him as saying. “If we want to die for jihad, we have to do maximum damage, maximum damage.”

Benbrika, also known as Abu Bakr, pleaded not guilty in December to directing the group's activities and possessing a CD related to planning a terrorist act.

Mazen Touma, Omar Baladjam, Mustafa Cheikho and Mohammed Jamal are the other suspects.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organization, the national spy agency, has requested that parts of the proceedings be closed to the public for national security reasons.