Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP)

Operation Pendennis

Year: 
2007-2008
Category: 
Counter-Terrorism
Location: 
Victoria

Abdul Nacer BENBRIKA, Aimen JOUD, Shane KENT, Fadl SAYADI, Hany TAHA, Abdullah MERHI, Bassam RAAD, Ahmed RAAD, Shoue HAMMOUD, Ezitt RAAD, Majed RAAD, Amer HADDARA, Izzydeen ATIK

Ten men were arrested in Melbourne in November 2005 and charged with terrorism offences under Part 5.3 of the Criminal Code. A further three men were arrested in March 2006 and charged with similar and related offences. All 13 accused were alleged to be members of a local unnamed terrorist organization led by Benbrika. It was alleged that the organization was committed to preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act.

The prosecution alleged that the organization was committed to violent ‘jihad’ against those they perceived to be enemies of Islam. One of the objectives discussed by the members of the organisation was to engage in an act of terrorism in Australia, in an effort to influence the Australian government to withdraw its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The prosecution case relied upon a large volume of electronically intercepted conversations recorded during the course of a lengthy police investigation.
On 5 July 2007 one of the 13 accused men, Atik, was arraigned and pleaded guilty before the Victorian Supreme Court to being a member of a terrorist organization contrary to section 102.3(1) of the Criminal Code and providing support or resources to a terrorist organization contrary to section 102.7 of the Criminal Code. Atik made a statement to police concerning his involvement in these offences and undertook to assist the Crown in the prosecution of his co-accused. On 23 August 2007 Atik was sentenced to a total effective sentence of 5½ years imprisonment. The Court ordered that he serve a minimum of 4 years, 1 month and 14 days before being eligible for parole. The Court declared that but for his undertaking to cooperate with law enforcement agencies, he would have been sentenced to an aggregate of 7½ years imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 5 years 7 months and 15 days.

On 8 February 2008 a jury was empanelled and the prosecution of the remaining 12 accused commenced before the Victorian Supreme Court commenced. Atik gave evidence in support of the Crown case at the trial. In the course of his evidence Atik said that he had discussed with Benbrika a plan to commit an act of terrorism at the AFL Grand Final, Crown Casino and or AFL pre-season competition grand final.

On 15 and 16 September 2008 the jury returned verdicts with respect to all but one of the 27 counts on the indictment. Benbrika, Joud, Sayadi, Merhi, Ahmed Raad, Ezzit Raad and Haddara were each found guilty of intentionally being a member of a terrorist organization. Joud, Ahmed Raad and Sayadi were also each found guilty of intentionally providing resources to the terrorist organization. Ahmed Raad, Joud, and Ezzit Raad were found guilty of attempting intentionally to make funds available to the terrorist organization. Joud and Benbrika were found guilty of possessing a thing connected with the preparation for a terrorist act. Benbrika was also convicted of intentionally directing the activities of the terrorist organisation. Bassam Raad, Taha, Hammoud and Majed Raad were acquitted of all charges. The jury was unable to reach a verdict with respect to the remaining defendant, Kent. The defendants found guilty by the jury in September 2008 are awaiting sentence.