Australian courts have today sentenced two individuals for engaging in terrorist acts in Australia. While the two cases are not related, this is the first time in Australia that any person has been sentenced for the substantive offence of engaging in a terrorist act. Other prosecutions have variously involved preparatory or secondary offending.
In the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Mr Ihsas Khan (25) was sentenced to 36 years' imprisonment, with a non parole period of imprisonment of 27 years. Mr Khan was found guilty by a jury of stabbing a neighbour, Mr Wayne Greenhalgh, with a knife on a street in the Sydney suburb of Minto on 10 September 2016.
In the Supreme Court of Victoria, Ms Momena Shoma (26) was sentenced to 42 years' imprisonment with a non parole period of imprisonment of 31 years and 6 months. Ms Shoma had pleaded guilty to stabbing her homestay host, Mr Roger Singaravelu, with a knife in Melbourne’s Mill Park on 9 February 2018.
The CDPP’s Deputy Director responsible for Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism, Mr Scott Bruckard, said the substantial sentences imposed in each case reflected the very serious nature of the offending and the need to protect the community from such attacks.
“The cases have striking similarities in the way the offenders were radicalised and carried out their attacks”, Mr Bruckard said.
“This includes the way they were exposed to extremist materials, their commitment to carrying out acts of violent jihad and the nature of the attacks themselves. It also highlights the changing nature of Australia’s security environment and the increasing presentation of cases involving lone actors using relatively unsophisticated methods of attack.”
“I would like to commend the efforts of the Joint Counter-Terrorism Teams who, together with their partner agencies, worked closely with Federal Prosecutors to assemble and present the evidence which resulted in both offenders being brought to justice.”
In addition to the two sentences handed down today, three other men are presently awaiting sentence in the Supreme Court of Victoria for engaging in a terrorist act (Mr Moukhaiber, Mr Chaarani and Mr Mohamed).
Case details: Ihsas Khan
Mr Khan targeted his victim, Mr Greenhalgh, three months before the attack after seeing him wearing a t-shirt with a pro-American military logo. Mr Khan wanted to attack a civilian to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
During the attack, witnesses heard Mr Khan yell out various things that indicated he was motivated by extremist ideology. These expressions of extremist ideology included; “Allahu Ahkbar” (Allah is the greatest), “You killed my brothers and sisters in Iraq” and “Shoot me, I want to die”.
Mr Khan motivated himself to carry out the attack by watching videos of Osama Bin Laden, searching for internet sites containing Islamic extremist materials and reading the Islamic State online magazine Rumiya.
Mr Greenhalgh sustained life-threatening injuries but survived after running to a nearby hairdressing salon. A number of brave local residents confronted Mr Khan, which allowed Mr Greenhalgh to seek refuge in the salon.
During a recorded interview, Mr Khan told police that his objective was to avenge the actions of Australian and US forces in Syria and Iraq, and for the Australian Government to “reconsider their military intervention overseas”. He wanted to “kill and be killed”.
Case details: Momena Shoma
At the time of the offence, Ms Shoma was staying at Mr Singaravelu’s home in Mill Park. She had travelled to Australia from Bangladesh on a student visa nine days earlier.
During the attack, Ms Shoma stabbed Mr Singaravelu in the neck with a large kitchen knife brought with her from Bangladesh while yelling "Allahu Akbar". Mr Singaravelu's five-year-old daughter was asleep next to him at the time of the attack. The force of the blow was so great that it fractured Mr Singaravelu's spine and caused the tip of the blade to break off.
Mr Singaravelu also survived the attack but suffered significant injuries.
At the time of her arrest, Ms Shoma told the police that she stabbed Mr Singaravelu because she “was ordered to by the Caliph of the Islamic State”. She said she had come to Australia solely to commit the act of terrorism, and hoped Mr Singaravelu would die. Ms Shoma told police her attack was in response to Muslim people being bombed by Westerners.
In the days leading up to the terrorist act, Ms Shoma watched beheading videos and other IS propaganda, and bought night-vision goggles to help her see in the dark during the attack.
Summary of charges and sentence imposed:
Mr Ihsas Khan
|Offence||Mr Khan was found guilty by a jury of one count of engaging in a terrorist act contrary to s101.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth)|
|Sentence||Mr Khan was sentenced to 36 years' imprisonment, with a non parole period of imprisonment of 27 years|
Ms Momena Shoma
|Offence||Ms Shoma pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a terrorist act contrary to s101.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth)|
|Sentence||Ms Shoma was sentenced to 42 years' imprisonment with a non parole period of imprisonment of 31 years and 6 months|
This offence of engaging in a terrorist act is punishable by a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
CDPP Media contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 6206 5708.