Accused quizzed on ‘bomb’

WHEN Mohammed Hammoud called his son, Shoue, his son’s first question was: “What’s up at the mosque?”
Mr Hammoud said: “I heard about rumours, son. Are you involved in the police at all?”
He said someone had told him that “you are going to make a bomb, and you are going to blow Australia up, and the police are watching you”.
The father-son exchange was read to the Supreme Court yesterday by prosecutor Richard Maidment, SC, in the trial of 12 Melbourne men, including Shoue Hammoud, charged with terrorism offences.
In two reported conversations with his father that day, Shoue Hammoud repeatedly denied the bomb claims – “No, no, no, don’t worry . . . I swear to Allah that there’s nothing at all” – and promised to visit his father, who said: “God bless you, son. I was worried all morning.”
The call, on December 31, 2004, was followed later that day by a call to Shoue from his uncle, Ahmed Abboud, who told Shoue he had heard that two men had gone to Preston mosque and reported suspicions that someone was “making a bomb”.
Mr Abboud said that Sheikh Fehmi, of Preston, mosque had then called the police to report the concerns.
Mr Abboud asked his nephew: “What I hear, is it true, or is it wrong?”
Shoue Hammoud said: “It’s not true, mate.”
Mr Abboud demanded to know whether Hammoud was with “Abu Bakr” (Abdul Nacer Benbrika) or not. When Hammoud said he saw Benbrika often, Mr Abboud warned: “Well, my advice is to keep away of him . . . Just keep away of him because I hear he is a very dangerous thing, you know.”
Benbrika is the leader of the group alleged to have been fostering or preparing a terrorist act. Hammoud, Benbrika and the other 10 accused have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Earlier that month, Mr Maidment said, accused Abdullah Merhi had gone to Benbrika’s house with two computer disks containing recipes for making bombs. Mr Maidment said that on another covert recording, Merhi said it was difficult to make “these type things . . . for example, close all phone lines around the whole area . . . make a big smokescreen”.
Mr Maidment said Benbrika warned Merhi: “Watch yourself . . . They will get you with this one.” To which, Merhi replied: “This is big, yeah . . . behind bars, for sure, this.”
The accused are Abdul Nacer Benbrika, 47, of Dallas; Shane Kent, 31, Meadow Heights; Majed Raad, 23, Coburg; Abdullah Merhi, 22, Fawkner; Aimen Joud, 23, Hoppers Crossing; Ahmed Raad, 24, Fawkner; Fadl Sayadi, 28, Coburg; Ezzit Raad, 26, Preston; Hany Taha, 33, Hadfield; Shoue Hammoud, 28, Hadfield; Bassam Raad, 26, Brunswick; and Amer Haddara, 28, Yarraville.
The trial continues.

First published in The Age.