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5 guilty in Australia terror plot

October 16, 2009|Associated Press

SYDNEY — Five men were convicted today of plotting a terrorist attack by collecting bomb-making instructions and purchasing explosive chemicals in Australia's largest terrorist conspiracy.

A jury deliberated for a month before finding the men guilty of conspiring to commit acts in preparation for a terrorist attack. Each faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

During the trial, which began in November, prosecutor Richard Maidment told the jury in New South Wales state Supreme Court that the men planned to use explosive devices or firearms to commit "extreme violence" in a bid to force Australia's government to change its policy on Middle East conflicts.

Justice Anthony Whealy prohibited the publishing of the men's names on the Internet.

The men were arrested in a series of raids on their homes in 2005. Maidment said during the trial that the raids turned up bomb-making instructions and militant Islamist material, including video of planes flying into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and images of beheadings.

The prosecutor also said the men purchased explosive chemicals and guns from July 2004 to November 2005.

The jury was also told that one man participated in a terrorist-run paramilitary training camp in Pakistan and that three others attended similar camps in New South Wales to prepare for an attack.

Whealy had instructed the jury to put aside any prejudices when coming to its verdict and to remember that the Muslim faith was not on trial.

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