THE youngest of 12 alleged terrorists asked his religious leader whether Muslims should kill John Howard and his family to pay back the former prime minister if his policies killed innocent Muslim families.
The self-appointed sheik, Abdul Nacer Benbrika, told Abdullah Merhi that Muslims were allowed to pay back kuffr (unbelievers) for wrongs they commit against Islam. “If they kill our kids, we kill,” he said.
Merhi later told Benbrika he still had doubts about whether what they were discussing would please Allah: “I have to get stronger in the belief that it’s pleasing him.”
Benbrika: How can you get this doubt?
Merhi: I am not perfect, sheik.
Benbrika told him that “these kind of things” require people who are not scared and who do not care about “the terrestrial world”.
The men’s alleged exchanges were covertly taped by investigators and the conversation was played to the Victorian Supreme Court yesterday by the prosecutor Richard Maidment, SC.
Mr Maidment has previously told the court that Merhi had told Benbrika he was willing to take part in a terrorist act. In the conversation, no specific act was mentioned, but Mr Maidment claimed that when any of the defendants talked about “doing something” it was code for “commit[ting] a terrorist act”.
Benbrika warned Merhi to be patient and careful: “It has to be secretly. Watch yourself, because if you show them what you want” (slapping noise) “they gonna put them in .., put us in jail.”
Merhi told Benbrika he did not want to wait 20 years, or even two years. He wanted to know whether, if he was sincere, Allah would “open the door” tonight, or in a month. Benbrika told him to trust in Allah, who knew best, and not to act alone because such a person needed a jemaah (group) and a leader. He should not just kill “one, two or three”, Benbrika said, but should “do a big thing”.
Merhi: Like Spain?
Benbrika: That’s it.
Mr Maidment said this was a reference to bomb attacks on train passengers in Spain in 2004 that killed 191 people and injured more than 1800.
Merhi asked if Benbrika had seen pictures of what American soldiers were doing to women in Iraq; these things needed to be exposed, he said.
Benbrika: Here in Australia, when you do something, they stop to send the troop … If you kill – we kill here a thousand, the government is going to think.
Merhi had complained that the group was taking too long to organise something, Mr Maidment said. He told the court that another defendant, Aimen Joud, had told Benbrika: “Bring the tools, sheik … If you don’t want us to run away, then prepare something … prepare something and no one will run.”
All 12 Melbourne men are charged with intentionally being members of a terrorist organisation involved in the fostering or preparation of a terrorist act in pursuit of violent jihad. All have pleaded not guilty.
They are Abdul Nacer Benbrika, 47, from 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 before Justice Bernard Bongiorno.
First published in The Age.