THE youngest member of an alleged terror group hand-wrote a will at the age of 19 and asked his “Muslim brothers” to fight jihad if the government tried to interfere with it, the Supreme Court was told yesterday.
Prosecutor Richard Maidment, SC, said Abdullah Merhi’s making a will in 2005 was “consistent with a person . . . pursuing violent jihad in a committed way and prepared to die as a martyr in the cause of Allah”.
Merhi is one of a group of 12 Melbourne men, allegedly led by Abdul Nacer Benbrika, accused of being members of an organisation that was fostering or preparing a terrorist act or threat that involved use of a bomb or weapons. Ten also face other terror charges. All have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The court has previously heard that Benbrika had said he wanted the group to kill 1000 people to force the Australian government to stop sending troops to Iraq.
Mr Maidment yesterday took the jury through large folders that he said contained information about terrorist-related material found in several defendants’ possession, including:
· Videos of beheadings by terrorists.
· Handbooks on how to make bombs.
· Strategies for setting up an active terror cell.
· Lists of the joys awaiting Islamic martyrs in paradise.
He also showed the jury photographs of a training camp in NSW that some of the men allegedly attended in 2004.
Mr Maidment said phone intercepts recorded Shoue Hammoud calling his wife in October 2004 to ask her to pack him a bag. Their exchange continued:
“Where are you going?” – Going to Eden.
“What are you going to do there?” – Going terrorist training.
“What?” – Terrorist training.
“She presses him: ‘Don’t be stupid’,” said Mr Maidment.
Mr Maidment said police found an alleged training camp on a remote property in NSW where trees had bullet holes, and police dug up batteries and spark plugs that they believed made up an ignition device.
Mr Maidment said some of the group’s Islamic-library material argued that while suicide was not permitted in Islam, martyrdom was. It was promised that martyrs would have all their sins forgiven from the moment the first drop of their blood was spilled, would speed across the bridge over hell-fire to heaven and would be wed to 72 virgins in paradise.
Mr Maidment said some of the material argued that the only true meaning of jihad was physical fight. He said the alleged terror group often discussed what was and was not legal under Islam, and that Benbrika told them it was OK to steal or use credit card fraud to obtain money for jihad from infidels.
Mr Maidment said recordings would show that Benbrika had derided as stupid a journalist who had interviewed him on the ABC in 2005. Asked what he thought about killing innocent people, Benbrika had essentially replied that it was forbidden, Mr Maidment said.
A week later, he said, Benbrika told another accused that the reporter was “a dumbhead, because he didn’t ask the next question, ‘What do you really mean by innocent?’ And, of course, if he had asked that, then my answer might have been different or more revealing.”
Mr Maidment said, “What he meant was, of course, ‘I had my fingers crossed. What I really meant was that the Australian people who voted for John Howard couldn’t be regarded as innocent people, and therefore pursuit of violent jihad within Australia is permitted’.”
Abdullah Merhi, 22, is from Fawkner and Shoue Hammoud, 28, from Hadfield. The other accused are Benbrika, 47, Dallas; Shane Kent, 31, Meadow Heights; Majed Raad, 23, Coburg; Aimen Joud, 23, Hoppers Crossing; Ahmed Raad, 24, Fawkner; Fadl Sayadi, 28, Coburg; Ezzit Raad, 26, Preston; Hany Taha, 33, Hadfield; Bassam Raad, 26, Brunswick; and Amer Haddara, 28, of Yarraville.
Mr Maidment continues his opening today before Justice Bongiorno and a jury of 15.
First published in The Age.