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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Australia foils terror attack -arrests 17 Muslims - cleric Abu Bakr to face charges - police fired on near mosque

Australia foils terror attack -arrests 17 Muslims - cleric Abu Bakr to face charges - police fired on near mosque

Suspects planned Jihad court told - arrested cleric had been kept out of summit on religous violence by PM
November 7, 2005

"...One of the nine arrested in Melbourne was the outspoken Melbourne Muslim cleric Abu Bakr (Bakr),said his lawyer Rob Stary.

Abu Bakr was among the radical Islamic clerics excluded by Prime Minister John Howard from a recent summit on religious violence.

Mr Stary said the nine men, including Bakr, had been charged with being members of a proscribed organisation under anti-terrorism legislation..."

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http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,17177645%255E601,00.html

Suspects planned jihad, court told

November 08, 2005

NINE men arrested overnight in anti-terrorism raids had formed a group aimed at carrying out a jihad or holy war, a Melbourne court has been told.

Prosecutor Richard Maidment QC told the Melbourne Magistrate's court the nine formed a terrorist group to kill "innocent men and women in Australia".

The nine include include Osama Bin Laden supporter, Abdul Nacer Benbrika, also known as Abu Bakr. The Melbourne suspects had been planning terrorist crimes for more than 12 months, Mr Maidment said. "There's been talk within the Melbourne group that the Sydney group are further ahead than them and they wanted to do something about that," Mr Maidment said.

"The members of the Sydney group have been gathering chemicals of a kind that were used in the London Underground bombings.

"They've been involved in military training and were planning a weekend in Ocean Grove (southwest of Melbourne).

"It is alleged that all of the persons who have been before the court this morning along with another not presently in custody constitutes a terrorist organisation.

"That organisation is directed by the defendant Benbrika.

"Each of the members of the group are committed to the cause of violent jihad."

The men were arrested about 2.30am (AEDT) in Melbourne's north and west in what been described as Australia's largest ever anti-terrorism operation.

Simultaneous raids were conducted in Sydney's southwestern suburbs, where seven people were arrested.

In Melbourne, police raided homes in Preston, Dallas, Hoppers Crossing, Fawkner, Hadfield, Coburg, Yarraville and Meadow Heights.

In August, Benbrika said Osama Bin Laden was a great man and it was okay for Australian Muslims to fight Coalition troops in Iraq.

He is a dual Algerian and Australian citizen who has lived in Melbourne's northern suburbs since 1989.

Benbrika also was the Sydney group's spiritual leader, Mr Maidment said.

He said the Melbourne group believed it was permitted in some circumstances to kill innocent women and children.

"The Crown points to evidence that each member of the group remains committed to the pursuit of violent jihad in Australia," Mr Maidment said in court.

He said members of the group engaged in military-style training at Kinglake, north-east of Melbourne.

Mr Maidment said the group had been involved in discussions about bomb making and were in possession of unauthorised firearms, including a loaded handgun.

"There was discussion about sourcing chemicals and identifying chemicals that were not easy to source since September 11 (2001)," the prosecutor said.

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http://dailytelegraph.news.com.au/story/0,20281,17176801-5001021,00.html

Large scale terror attack foiled

November 08, 2005

POLICE say they have foiled a large scale terrorist attack in Australia following the arrest of at least 17 people in raids in Sydney and Melbourne early today.

Nine people in Melbourne and eight in Sydney were arrested as hundreds of ASIO, Australian Federal Police and state police officers swooped on homes in the two cities, police said.

In western Sydney, a man was shot and wounded by police.

However police would not immediately confirm the shooting was linked to the raids, which got under way in Sydney and Melbourne simultaneously about 2.30am (AEDT) and continued late this morning.

The man shot by police in Sydney's Green Valley just before 9am (AEDT) was taken to Liverpool Hospital with a serious wound to his upper body, but no further details were immediately available.

The raids were the culmination of a 16-month operation and the suspects in Melbourne and Sydney were alleged to be working together, police said.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma said it was alleged the group in Sydney was stockpiling chemicals capable of making explosives and that they were believed to be planning a terrorist attack in Australia.

Substances believed to be chemicals had been seized in Sydney by officers wearing protective clothing, police said.

Those arrested were due to appear in court in Melbourne and Sydney today, on federal and state charges.

Police said they would oppose bail.

"I'm satisfied that we have disrupted what I would regard as the final stages of a large scale terrorist attack ... here in Australia," said NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney told ABC radio.

Police had not identified any targets.

"We believe ... that we've disrupted a large scale operation which, had it been allowed to go through to fruition, we certainly believe would have been catastrophic," Mr Moroney told the Nine Network.

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks said he believed police had disrupted "probably the most serious preparation for a terrorist attack that we have seen in Australia".

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon said there was no specific target in Melbourne, and ruled out a link to any threats against next year's Commonwealth Games.

But she said the raids were directly related to Prime Minister John Howard's announcement last week of a possible terrorist threat believed to involve potential Australian targets.

"It's the largest operation of counter-terrorism that's ever been conducted in this country and it's taken us a long period of time," she said.

Senior police said while last week's federal amendments to anti-terror legislation had been a help, the raids would have taken place anyway.

Police said the raids in Sydney targeted homes in south western suburbs including Wiley Park, while in Melbourne homes were raided in suburbs including Preston, Dallas, Hoppers Crossing, Fawkner, Hadfield, Coburg and Yarraville and Meadow Heights.

Those arrested in Melbourne faced charges included intentionally being a member of a terrorist organisation and intentionally directing the activities of a terrorist organisation, Australian Federal Police said.

It was not yet clear what charges those arrested in Sydney faced.

At least five of those arrested in Sydney were Australian citizens.

Alleging a link between the Sydney and Melbourne arrests, Mr Moroney said: "We will certainly be presenting matters before the court today which we will seek to establish links between both groups."

One of the nine arrested in Melbourne was the outspoken Melbourne Muslim cleric Abu Bakr (Bakr), said his lawyer Rob Stary.

Abu Bakr was among the radical Islamic clerics excluded by Prime Minister John Howard from a recent summit on religious violence.

Mr Stary said the nine men, including Bakr, had been charged with being members of a proscribed organisation under anti-terrorism legislation.

The group had not been specified by authorities, he said.

"They are not charged with being involved in the planning or preparation (of a terrorist act) ... they are charged with a membership offence only," he said.

"They are the only charges.

Nor had any materials been seized in Melbourne that indicated the nine were about to launch a terrorist strike, Mr Stary said.

Mr Stary said some of those arrested in Melbourne had been targeted by ASIO raids in June.

Mr Moroney drew comparisons with anti-terror operation in London and Madrid, which he said took place after attacks took place.

Police in Australia had taken pre-emptive action, he said.

"We were not prepared to wait for an event to happen." Mr Moroney said.

Prime Minister John Howard last week announced there was a potential terrorist threat, saying he had received intelligence indicating an attack on Australia was possible.

The threat was believed to involve people in Melbourne and Sydney, and an urgent amendment to existing anti-terrorism laws which gave police greater powers to arrest terrorist suspects was rushed through parliament as a result.

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'Australia foils terrorist attack
Mon Nov 7, 2005 8:38 ET PM

http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-11-08T013839Z_01_MOL775146_RTRUKOC_0_US-SECURITY-AUSTRALIA.xml&archived=False

By Joanne Collins

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian authorities arrested 17 people on Tuesday on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, raiding homes in Melbourne and Sydney less than a week after parliament passed tougher anti-terror laws.

One man was shot in the Sydney raids and the police bomb squad was examining a backpack at the scene. Outspoken Muslim cleric Abu Bakr, who has voiced support for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, was among those arrested in Melbourne.

Prime Minister John Howard last week said Australia received intelligence about a "terrorist threat" and amended anti-terror laws making it easier for police to arrest suspects.

"Intelligence was received that a group was making arrangements to stockpile chemicals and other materials capable of making explosives," New South Wales state Premier Morris Iemma told a news conference in Sydney.

"Police believe that the group was planning a terrorist attack in Australia," Iemma said.

Victorian state Police Commissioner Christine Nixon said the group did not have a target and specifically ruled out the Commonwealth Games, which are due to be held in Melbourne in March and opened by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.

"But we had sufficient evidence these people were planning a significant attack," Nixon told reporters.

Police said they had seized chemicals which if combined would be "volatile", firearms, computers, travel documents and backpacks.

Australian media last week reported that possible targets under police surveillance were the Sydney Opera House, harbor bridge, two Sydney oil refineries, the Australian stock exchange in Melbourne and Melbourne's main rail station.

Australia, a staunch U.S. ally with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, has never suffered a major peacetime attack on home soil. The country has been on medium security alert since shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Four Australians are awaiting trial in Sydney and Melbourne on terror charges, linked to supporting and training with banned groups such as al Qaeda.

CHARGES

Police raided 23 houses in Sydney and Melbourne early on Tuesday as part of the country's largest ever counter-terrorism operation involving hundreds of police, following a 16-month investigation.

"We believe ... we've disrupted a large-scale operation which, had it been allowed to go through to fruition, we certainly believe would have been catastrophic," New South Wales state Police Commissioner Ken Moroney told Australian television.

Several searches were still under way, police told Reuters.

Police said eight people were arrested in Sydney and nine in Melbourne. Those arrested have been charged with offences including acts in preparation of a terrorist attack, being a member of a terrorist group and conspiracy to commit a terrorist act.

Muslim cleric Abu Bakr was one of nine men who appeared in a Melbourne court to face charges.

The court was told Bakr was the spiritual leader of the group which had engaged in military-like training and were committed to a "violent jihad" in Australia.

Bakr has voiced his support for Osama bin Laden and defended Muslims fighting U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, but denied any involvement in terror activities.

The Australia Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), last week acknowledged for the first time that Australia had home-grown extremists, some of whom trained overseas.

Media reports have said ASIO is believed to have concerns about up to 800 Muslims in Australia who have voiced support for politically motivated violence, while up to 80 people resident in Australia were known to have trained with militant organizations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in Canberra)

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http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,17176544%255E601,00.html

Residents shocked at terror raids

November 08, 2005

RESIDENTS in a south-western Sydney street have described the shock of being woken by an early morning anti-terrorism raid.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Ken Moroney confirmed federal and state police raided homes in Sydney and Melbourne today and foiled a "large-scale terrorist attack".

Nine people were arrested today in Melbourne and six in Sydney, with more arrests expected later this morning.

Residents of Renown Avenue, Wiley Park, described their shock at being woken by armed police raiding a single-storey brick home nearby.

The raid was still continuing with police still in the street.

Gabriella Beyrouthy, her husband and three children close to where the police activity was occurring.

Ms Beyrouthy said she believed several families lived in the raided home, and she had often seen them in the street.

"I am surprised (about the raid)," she said.

"I see a lot of people in there (and) they're very good people.

"We've never had any problems with them."

Her son John Kourou Malis, 13, said he went outside to find television cameras and police all over the place.

"There were police everywhere," John said.

"I didn't even know what was happening.

"I'm not really scared but I'm surprised this would happen in our street," he said.

A Danish exchange student living in Renown Avenue, Ulrich Soerensen, 17, said he noticed police as he left home for school this morning.

He also noticed police had been watching the home for some time.

"In the last few months police cars have been driving up and down the road, stopping at the end of the road," Mr Soerensen said.

He had also seen a policeman with binoculars looking into the house.

"There's a lot going on over there, a lot of different people," Mr Soerensen said.

Anti-terrorist police later raided a second home in Renown Avenue, this time a double-storey block of units on the opposite side of the street.

Police entered the house and shortly after were seen coming out with a number of different sized brown paper bags they had seized.

The bags were then taken away in a police forensic vehicle.

Armed police were camped outside the house.

A high school girl who spoke briefly to AAP on her way to school said her Renown Avenue home also had been raided early today.

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MIM:PM Howard has saved himself more then embarressment by standing firm on his decision to keep out extremist clerics from a summit on Islamist violence .

Moderate leaders said yesterday that Mr Howard had made a mistake by cold-shouldering fundamentalist leaders such as Melbourne's Sheik Mohammed Omran, whose congregations were more at risk of becoming radicalised.

"If they are serious about tackling extremists, then you need a broad cross-section of the community and, in particular, that section of the community accused of fostering extremism," Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee executive director Amir Butler said.

"I don't really see what's going to come out of this."

Mr Butler said Salafist Muslims, who advocate a pure interpretation of the Koran, would be unrepresented at the Canberra summit, even though they accounted for up to 10 per cent of Australia's 350,000-strong Muslim community.

"It seems to be a narrow selection of the people," Mr Butler said. "There are no Salafis represented...."

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http://islamicsydney.com/story.php?id=2330

Friday 19 August 2005
Muslims In Row Over PM' Talks
by Linda Morris
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/muslims-in-row-over-pms-talks/2005/08/18/1123958182093.html

One of the nation's largest Muslim groups has not been invited to the Muslim leadership summit being hosted by the Prime Minister, John Howard, next week.

The exclusion of the Lebanese Muslim Association, which claims to be among the largest community-based Muslim groups in Australia, was a disappointment and called into question the effectiveness of the summit, the association's spokesman, Abdul Ayoubi, said.

The Supreme Islamic Council of NSW will also not be represented by the 14 Muslim leaders summoned to Canberra to discuss strategies to eradicate extreme views and prevent violence.

While the senior imam of Sydney's Lakemba Mosque, Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly, has been invited, the outspoken Sheik Mohammed Omran and Sheik Abdul Salam Zoud have not, despite warnings about the risks of isolating these fringe leaders.

Mr Ayoubi said Sheik Hilaly did not speak for the Lebanese association.

The Lakemba-based LMA is in dispute with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, which is strongly represented at the summit, over the aborted visit of a British Muslim cleric.

The rift highlights growing disquiet among Australian Muslims about the legitimacy of the federation to speak for the wider community.

The chairman of the Supreme Islamic Council of NSW, Gabr Elgafi, said the federation appeared to have played a role in drawing up the Prime Minister's invitation list.

Many of those on the list were largely unknown.

"If we want real and lasting results we should have broad representation from people who can dialogue with the rest of the community, rather than narrow representation," Mr Elgafi said.

"What about involving the Turkish community in Auburn? What about the Afghans, the Pakistanis in Rooty Hill, the Bangladeshis in Sefton and the Egyptians in Kogarah? How can we have dialogue if we are isolating the people who can help most?"

The Lebanese association has attacked the federation for its suggestion that the association was gullible to book the controversial British cleric, Abdur Raheem Green, to speak at Lakemba Mosque.

A Muslim convert, Mr Green abandoned three lectures he was to have given to mainly Muslim audiences in Sydney this week after there were indications he would not be allowed to enter Australia. In a letter dated August 12, the LMA president, Ahmad Kamaleddine, said the federation had failed in its mission to represent Muslims federally and had been "quick to point fingers rather than working closely with Muslim organisations representative of the community".

"It seems that AFIC is not interested in beneficial outcomes for the Muslim community in these tough times," Mr Kamaleddine wrote.

"AFIC is only interested in keeping its image clean at the expense of the reputation of Muslim organisations and the wider Muslim community.

"The LMA would like to advise you that before you start labelling any organisation and making public accusations you should begin cleaning up the mess in your home "

The Lebanese association, which is operating under a new executive, has backed away from its assertions that its board had specifically rejected the visit of Mr Green.

The federation's chief executive, Amjad Mehboob, said the organisation would reply to the Lebanese association's letter and clarify the comments that were made to correct media reporting of the Green visit.

Mr Mehboob said the federation did not claim to represent all Muslims but many "grassroots Muslims" looked up to it as their parent body.

The federation's president, Dr Ameer Ali, said relations between it and other Islamic groups were "quite amicable".

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RELATED

PM Shuns Radical Clerics

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/commo...255E601,00.html

Trudy Harris and Dennis Shanahan
The Australian August 19, 2005

John Howard has shut out radical Muslim clerics from his terror summit, prompting warnings from moderate leaders that the long-awaited meeting would further isolate the extremists.

In the lead-up to Tuesday's summit, a newly formed group of moderates has also proposed establishing a panel of clerics to advise the Government on which religious leaders should be allowed into the country.

The Prime Minister yesterday released the guest list, which includes 14 Islamic leaders, all of whom are regarded as moderates.

The summit was called to address the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in Australia, particularly among disillusioned youth, as part of an intensified effort to prevent a terrorist attack on home soil in the wake of the London bombings.

Moderate leaders said yesterday that Mr Howard had made a mistake by cold-shouldering fundamentalist leaders such as Melbourne's Sheik Mohammed Omran, whose congregations were more at risk of becoming radicalised.

"If they are serious about tackling extremists, then you need a broad cross-section of the community and, in particular, that section of the community accused of fostering extremism," Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee executive director Amir Butler said.

"I don't really see what's going to come out of this."

Mr Butler said Salafist Muslims, who advocate a pure interpretation of the Koran, would be unrepresented at the Canberra summit, even though they accounted for up to 10 per cent of Australia's 350,000-strong Muslim community.

"It seems to be a narrow selection of the people," Mr Butler said. "There are no Salafis represented."

Mr Howard said the summit would work on strategies to promote shared values and investigate how Islamic leaders could help prevent intolerance and the promotion of violence.

But Mr Butler said the leaders attending the summit had no authority over the more radical religious and community clerics and preachers.

"These people don't have any authority whatsoever over the imams accused of making inflammatory remarks. If they come out of the summit and say 'Hey, imams, stop saying those things', they will just laugh," he said.

Other leading moderates warned that excluding fundamentalists risked marginalising them. Former Federation of Australian Muslim and Youth president Zachariah Matthews said fundamentalists needed to be confronted with debate about their ideas to make them understand how they differed from the rest of Australian society.

"With them not being there or represented there, that will keep them on the margins," Dr Matthews said. "Isolating them from the whole process means they are not exposed to how things work, and this is an opportunity for them to be involved."

But a leading moderate who is attending the summit said including Sheik Omran, and Sheik Abdul Salam Zoud from the Belmore Mosque in Sydney, would lead to the talks becoming bogged down amid accusations and argument. "We don't want those people there. The whole thing will just go haywire. We want something positive out of this," said the moderate, who did not wish to be named.

A newly formed Muslim group proposed establishing a panel of "legitimate" Islamic clerics to advise the Government on whom to admit to Australia.

The Australian Shia Muslim Network, representing more than 50,000 Shia Muslims in NSW, has struck out against terrorism.

Sheik Jehad Ismail and Ali Khamis -- spokesmen for the group, which represents 12 different Islamic centres and associations -- said "terrorism is legally, morally and explicitly wrong by Muslim principles".

"Australian mosques have been consistently warning against acts of terrorism and affiliations with misguided groups, declaring all violence as unjustified, un-Islamic and un-Australian," they said.

Last night, Sheik Ismail told The Australian the new group was prompted by the London bombings and reactions to the threat of home-grown terror.

Sheik Ismail said Muslims were all part of "mainstream Australia, and we all want to Advance Australia Fair".

"We don't wish anybody to be hurt and we want to pursue freedom and peace in Australia," he said.

"We don't want to import old wars and hatred into Australia,"

After the London bombings, Mr Howard called for Australian Muslim leaders to denounce acts of terrorism and help prevent incitement to violence.

On Tuesday, Mr Howard will meet 14 Islamic religious and community leaders to identify ways for "Islamic leaders to assist in eliminating intolerance and the promotion of violence in this country".

"The meeting will also discuss what assistance the Government might provide to support the leaders of Australian Muslim communities to eradicate extreme views and prevent violence," Mr Howard said yesterday.

Sheik Ismail told The Australian that, like the "random bag checks" in London to try to detect suicide bombers, there should be "compulsory brain checks" for people coming into Australia.

The sheik said nobody knew the Islamic community like the community itself and that a group of "legitimate" religious leaders could be appointed to advise the Government on foreign clerics.

"The willingness of the Muslim community to continue engagement with the Australian Federal Police ... is testament to their belief that there is absolutely no justification for such evil intentions, attitudes and criminal actions or excuse for taking innocent life, regardless of creed, colour, race or religion," he said.

Sheik Zoud said last night he was not disappointed at not getting a summit seat, adding that he would express his views through one of the leaders attending. Sheik Omran could not be contacted for comment.

Acting chairman of the Islamic Council of NSW, Ali Roude, said he would include the views of Sheik Zoud and others at the summit. "This is an important chance to share our ideas, concerns and commitments," he said.

Additional reporting: John Stapleton



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