3 sentenced in terror plot on Australian army base

AP News
Posted: Dec 15, 2011 10:55 PM
3 sentenced in terror plot on Australian army base

Three men who plotted a suicide attack against an Australian army base because they believed Islam was under threat from Western nations were sentenced Friday to more than 13 years in prison.

The men _ Australian citizens originally from Somalia or Lebanon _ were convicted last year of conspiring to plot a terrorist attack against Holsworthy Barracks, an army base on the outskirts of Sydney. Officials said the group planned to send a team of men with automatic rifles into the base in a bid to kill as many soldiers as possible.

Police said the men were motivated by a belief that Islam was under attack from the West, and planned to keep on shooting until they were killed.

On Friday, Victoria state Supreme Court Justice Betty King sentenced Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, 35, Saney Edow Aweys, 28, and Nayef El Sayed, 27, to 18 years in prison, with a non-parole period of 13-and-a-half years. They had faced a sentence of up to life in prison.

"Your plans were evil," King told the trio.

During the trial, prosecutors said the men were upset about Australia's involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Officials said one of the men visited Somalia in the hopes of gaining approval for the attack from an Islamic cleric. The men were accused of having ties to Somalia-based al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaida.

Terrorism in Australia is extremely rare and Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus has said the attack would have been the most serious ever carried out in the country had it been successful.

The men refused to stand for the judge when she entered the courtroom and Fattal was thrown out of court after he later stood and shouted, "This is corruption!"

King said the three men should be ashamed for plotting an attack against a country that had embraced them.

As El Sayed and Aweys were led out of the courtroom, El Sayed said to the judge: "Allah gives us justice _ not these courts."