Three men who conspired to kill as many people as possible in a gun attack on an Australian military base were sentenced yesterday to 18 years in jail, with the judge describing their plans as “evil”.
A jury found Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, 35 and Nayev El Sayed, 28, both of Lebanese descent, and Saney Edow Aweys, 27, who is of Somali origin, guilty of conspiring to plan a terror attack a year ago.
They escaped the maximum penalty of life in prison but Justice Betty King sentenced them each to 18 years with a non-parole period of 13-and-a-half years, saying they remained a danger to the community.
“None of you, not one … recanted from any extremist view that you held,” she said in sentencing. “That is a significant factor because each of you whilst you hold those views remains a danger to the members of this community and thus protection of the community remains a very significant factor in sentencing you.”
The trio were found guilty of plotting to attack Sydney’s Holsworthy Army Barracks with high-powered weapons and shoot as many people as possible before being killed themselves to further their vision of Islam.
“Your intentions, your plans were deadly serious,” she said.
“It was to kill as many personnel that could be found on the army base at Holsworthy in the time prior to you being killed yourselves as martyrs,” she said, in what she added would have been “a totally horrific event”.
“Your plans were evil. You intended to plan a random shooting of anyone you found on that army base, be it army personnel, civilian, male or female.”
She said that while the plan by the men, who have been linked with Islamist extremists in Somalia, could have called for a life sentence, the planning was only at an “amateurish level”.
The terror plan was developed between February and August 2009, with one of the men visiting Somalia to seek a fatwa backing the attack.
King said that the three condemned Canberra’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan and believed Islam was under attack from several countries, including Australia.
“The fact that Australia welcomed all of you and nurtured you and your families is something that should cause you all to hang your heads in shame that this was the way you planned to show your thanks for that support,” she said.