Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jihad's motley crew

Milanda Rout

ON a building site in Melbourne's western suburbs, an unlikely group of characters found themselves working together.

Yacqub Khayre arrived in Australia from Somalia as a young boy and spoke good English, worked hard but could not communicate with his Turkish-speaking boss.

Nayef El Sayed was young but had a fair share of responsibility with three children and a newborn baby. Wissam "Omar" Fattal, a former kickboxer and Muslim convert, used to complain about music played on the site because it was forbidden under Islamic law. They were all described by their boss as gentlemen who got their work done and seemed to get along.

So how did this group, along with two others, Saney Aweys and Abdirahman Ahmed - best described as a motley crew of individuals from different backgrounds and life experiences - end up being charged with conspiring to plan a terrorist attack on the Holsworthy army base in Sydney?

Seven volumes of prosecution evidence was tendered this week to the Melbourne Magistrates Court after four of the five men pleaded not guilty, waived the right to a committal hearing and were ordered to standtrial.

The fifth man, El Sayed, was not obliged to enter a plea and has reserved his right to have a committal proceeding next May.

The substantial brief - including lengthly police interviews - traces the life story of each leading up the fateful morning of the dramatic police raids that put an end to their alleged terror plot. Each is a tale of immigration and resettlement in a new country, and none is quite like the other.

Aweys, Ahmed and Khayre came as humanitarian refugees with their families from Somalia when they were children, with Khayre growing up among Italian and Greekmigrants. He cannot speak Somalian orArabic.

Fattal and El Sayed came to Australia from Lebanon, Fattal on the urging of a boxing promoter as he was a prize kickboxer and El Sayed returning here after doing one year of military service.

The group got to know each other when they started attending the Preston Mosque in Melbourne's northern suburbs.

The Australian Federal Police allege that, despite their differences, these five men were planning to die together, to launch a suicide attack on Holsworthy in which they would storm the military base and gun down as many soldiers as they could before they themselves were shot.

Aweys was said to have access to weapons. He was also said to have sought religious blessing - known as a fatwa - from a number of sheiks in Somalia to give sanction to their murderous plans.

"They want to enter into the military/forces are stationed, the barracks. Their desire to fan out and get as much as they could until they would be hit," Aweys says in one of the key conversations captured by secret AFP telephone intercepts, tendered to the court this week.

"And 20 minutes would be enough for us to take out five, six, 10 and eight - whatever Allah know ... six of them once they enter inside the location/place for about 20minutes to 30 minutes, until they will use up theirweapons."

Read more here,,,,,

Source: The Australian

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