Phone taps 'proved' 12 Muslim men were in terror group.
BY MICHAEL RUFFLES MELBOURNE CORRESPONDENT
Covert recordings of Melbourne men saying jail would be a ''reward'' for carrying out ''Allah's cause'' showed they were knowingly part of a terrorist group, a Supreme Court jury has heard.
In the first day of closing statements yesterday, Crown prosecutor Richard Maidment, SC, said strong electronic evidence proved the 12 men on trial belonged to a terrorist organisation that was planning violent jihad, including planned attacks against Melbourne train stations and sporting venues that could have killed thousands.
He told the jury that despite the complicated laws, they firstly must be convinced that a terrorist organisation did exist before any of the 12 accused could be found guilty. Abdul Nacer Benbrika (his photo in white), Amer Haddara, Abdullah Merhi, Fadal Sayadi, Hany Taha, Shoue Hammoud, Bassam Raad (his photo grey jacket), Majed Raad, Ahmed Raad (car dealer), Ezzit Raad, Izzydeen Atik, Aimen Joud and Shane Kent have each pleaded not guilty to being a member of a terrorist organisation.
Most are facing extra terrorism charges relating to alleged activities between July 1, 2004, and their arrest in November 2005. Mr Maidment said three of the accused were heavily involved in a stolen car racket to raise funds and buy weapons and chemicals to be used in terrorist acts.
He highlighted several covertly recorded conversations, through phone intercepts and listening devices, that had been played throughout the trial. During a conversation in a garage on September 10, 2004, Ahmed Raad was recorded as saying, ''Imagine going to prison for Allah's cause, every second you are in there is a reward.''
Mr Maidment said the conversation clearly proved the guilt of the three involved because they were aware the proceeds of the stolen car racket would be used for terrorism. ''Here Ahmed Raad (car dealer) is saying 'this is in Allah's cause, we are doing this in Allah's cause to pursue violent jihad','' he said.
''The Crown says that's an important conversation because it really reveals a recognition on the part of all those people that they are part of a terrorist organisation.'' Mr Maidment said when police broke the stolen car ring and arrested members of the group, Benbrika was more worried about whether police knew about the group's true purpose.
He said Benbrika taught his followers that Muslims were obliged to take action because Australia was a land of war. ''It was an obligation to pursue violent jihad ... it was that teaching and that philosophy that underpinned that organisation,'' he said.
Earlier, Mr Maidment said the men came together with a common ideology and the group had a clear structure and purpose. The evidence showed they were training, gathering chemicals and material to attack Melbourne train stations or sporting venues. ''We are seeking to persuade you that the evidence is sufficiently able ... to present a clear picture of the activities they were engaged in,'' he said.
Yet to come are closing addresses by 12 defence counsel and Justice Bernard Bongiorno's direction to the jury.
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