The 21st Century Phenomenon




After a surveillance operation which lasted from 06/2004, the police in Australia arrested, on 11/08/2005, in Sydney and Melbourne, in a coordinated anti-terror swoop, 18 terror suspects – 10 in Melbourne and 8 in Sydney, for charges that they formed a terror network. (Operation Pendennis ).


During the arrests one of the suspects in Sydney, Omar Baladjam, resisted his arrest by opening fire on the police. He was shot in his neck in order to subdue him. The arrests followed the execution of 22 search warrants across Sydney and Melbourne on 11/08/2005 morning, during which a range of materials including chemicals, firearms, travel documents and computers were seized. 

Some members of the network went through training in Lashkar-e-Toiba camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan and others trained themselves in the woods on the outskirts of Sydney.   


Sydney cell


The terror network was led by Abdul Nasser Benbrika in Sydney and included two cells, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne.   

One of the defendants arrested in Sydney, Mirsad Mulahalilovic, acquired and attempted to acquire materials – mainly sulfuric acid, acetone and peroxide for the production of explosives. The chemical materials suggest that the suspects planned to manufacture Triacetone Triperoxide, a home made highly unstable but effective explosive commonly used by the Palestinians in their terror campaign against Israel


Three of the suspects: Mazen Touma, Mohammed El-Omar and Abdul Rakib Hasan, all from Sydney region, were in a car stopped by police in 12/2004 near Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear facility but they never were charged on any attempt to attack Lucas Heights. 

Other suspects from Sydney region are: Khaled Cheikho, Moustafa Cheikho, Khaled Sharrouf and Mohammed Jamal (see – Sydney Cell). The Sydney cell trial began on 05/31/2007. All defendants pleaded not guilty. Their trial is set to continue in 02/2008.


*  Five of the Sydney cell members were convicted, on Friday 10/16/2009 (see – Conviction 10.16.09 ).


Melbourne cell



By large the Melbourne cell was formed by members of Lebanese descent who had fled a brutal civil war in Lebanon in the 80s’.  They worshipped regularly at Preston Mosque in Melbourne. According to the AUSTRALIAN intelligence service – ASIO, one of the suspects, Abdulla Merhi, from Melbourne, wanted to carry out attacks to avenge the war in Iraq. In phone conversations with Abdul Nasser Benbrika in 2004 he was taped, once, volunteering to commit a suicide attack himself. Abdulla Merhi, of Fawkner and Hany Taha, 31, of f Hadfield, Melbourne, were also charged with raising money to finance their terrorist activities. 


Other suspects arrested in Melbourne are:  Ezzit Raad, 23, of Preston; Aimen Joud, 21, of Hoppers Crossing; Fadal Sayadi, 25, of Coburg; Amer Haddara, 26, of Yarraville; Ahmed Raad, 22, of Fawkner, Shane Kent, 28, of Meadow Heights; and Izzydeen Atik, 25, from Williamstown.  see – .Melbourne Cell 


Ezzit Raad, Ahmed Raad and Shane Kent were rearrested on 03/31/2006 on suspicions that they continued their terror-related activity.  The trial of the Melbourne cell began on 09/01/2006.  Today (12/2007) the Melbourne cell members were not, yet, convicted and Abdulla Merhi and Hany Taha are kept, still, in custody.   


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