Five Muslims were sentenced on Monday to 23 to 28 years in prison in Australia for stockpiling explosive chemicals and firearms for terrorist attacks on unspecified targets.
Justice Anthony Whealy of the New South Wales Supreme Court expressed little hope the men could be rehabilitated, saying they were motivated by “intolerant, inflexible religious conviction” and had shown contempt for the Australian government, its leaders and laws.
Justice Whealy noted the men remained dangerous and unrepentant, appearing to “wear their imprisonment like some kind of badge of honour.”
“Each man’s conviction was that the plight of Muslims in other lands demanded violent action in this country to redress those wrongs and, through fear and panic in the community, to change the government’s policies,” he said.
The men, aged 25 to 44, were found guilty last October on charges linked to preparing a terrorist act between July 2004 and November 2005. The men — Australian-born or naturalized citizens with Muslim immigrant backgrounds — all pleaded innocent.
They stockpiled explosive chemicals and firearms, though it was not established where they would target.
During the trial, a former associate of the suspects testified the group had considered bombing an Australian Rules football final in Melbourne in 2005 that was attended by almost 92,000 people. Prosecutors said they had also discussed killing former Prime Minister John Howard.
While the exact nature of the plot and its target were not certain, Justice Whealy said the men clearly intended action that would “cause serious damage to property,” if not deaths.
Justice Whealy has restricted the media from publishing the men’s names. One 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.
“One particular feature of this trial was the fact that a considerable volume of extremist material was held by each offender in common with the other conspirators,” Justice Whealy said, noting that was “powerful evidence” they jointly held extremist views.
The men had faced a maximum penalty of life in prison. The judge allowed for parole after the men serve 17 to 21 years in prison.