Sevdet Besim has today been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for doing acts in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act. A non-parole period of 7 years and 6 months was fixed. It was alleged that Mr Besim planned to kill a police officer during Anzac Day commemorations in 2015 and then use the officer’s weapon to commit further acts of violence.
Mr Besim was motivated by a fatwa, issued on 22 September 2014 by the leader of the Islamic State, directing followers to target disbelievers to advance the cause of radical and violent Islam. The fatwa was widely reported in Australia and made specific mention of targeting soldiers, police and members of the intelligence services in Western countries, including Australia.
The day after the fatwa was issued, Mr Besim’s friend, Numan Haider, attacked two Joint Counter-Terrorism Team police officers at the Endeavour Hills Police Station in Victoria. In the process, Mr Haider was shot and killed by police. Police investigations revealed Mr Besim was with Mr Haider in the hours leading up to his death. Mr Haider’s death became a catalyst for the terrorist attack planned by Mr Besim.
In early 2015 Mr Besim made a pledge of allegiance to the leader of Islamic State, and in February and March 2015 he conducted a number of internet searches in relation to Anzac Day commemorations scheduled to be held in Melbourne. In March 2015, Mr Besim contacted a person in the UK via an encrypted telegram messaging application. Mr Besim was led to believe he was communicating with a adult man, with a wife and child. In fact, Mr Besim was communicating with a radicalised 14-year-old British boy – since sentenced to detention for life with a minimum of 5 years for his part in inciting this act of terrorism.
Over the course of a nine-day period there was a constant stream of communication between Mr Besim and the British boy during which Mr Besim acknowledged his intent to prepare and plan a terrorist attack on Anzac Day in Melbourne. These exchanges also revealed Mr Besim’s desire to fight for Islamic State overseas and his frustration at not being able to secure travel documents which would enable him to leave Australia. During one exchange with the British boy, Mr Besim discussed martyrdom and confirmed that he was prepared to die in the course carrying out the terrorist attack in Melbourne.
As communications continued, targets, timing and locations were discussed, along with the various methods and weapons that could be used including acquiring a gun or machete. These communications provided unequivocal evidence of Mr Besim’s preparation for, or planning of, a terrorist act. Mr Besim also wrote a note on his mobile phone detailing his reasons for the attack, his expectation that he would die in the course of it, and instructions for his burial.
Mr Besim was arrested on 18 April 2015 at his home in Melbourne. He ultimately pleaded guilty to one rolled-up count of doing acts in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act contrary to section 101.6(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth). This is an offence which is punishable by imprisonment for life.
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Sevdet Besim was charged with:
- One count of doing acts in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act contrary to section 101.6(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).
The sentence imposed for each count was:
- Imprisonment for 10 years; non-parole period of 7 years and 6 months