Five convicted of Australia terror plot

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The Independent Online

Five men who stockpiled bomb-making instructions and bought explosive chemicals were convicted today of Australia's largest terrorist conspiracy.

A jury in Sydney 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 last November, prosecutor Richard Maidment told the New South Wales Supreme Court jury 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 banned the media from publishing the men's names on the internet.

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

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

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

Justice 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.

Lawyers for the men had argued that there were innocent explanations for the material.

Outside court, supporters of some of the men shouted angrily after the verdict.

A sentencing hearing for the men, aged between 25 and 44, will begin on December 14.