More details have emerged about the foiled Christmas Day terror plot in Melbourne following the guilty verdict of the three terrorists.
In December 2016, Hamza Abbas, 23, his cousin Abdullah Chaarani, 27, and Ahmed Mohamed, 25, had planned to carry out attacks at packed Melbourne landmarks including Federation Square, St Paul’s and Flinders Street on Christmas Day, causing mass destruction using vehicles, machetes and suicide vests.
It has now been revealed that it was an agent who had just started working at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation who uncovered the terrorist plot.
The budding spy spotted the three men making a late night trip to a local chemist to pick up bomb-making ingredients.
ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis said the young analyst flagged the suspicious activity to her superiors at the “11th hour”, the Daily Mail reports.
“The Christmas crowds were gathering and as a result of the exertions of a young ASIO officer — a young woman who had been with us for about five minutes — one of our analysts, had noticed a group of young men forming in an unusual way and going to a chemist shop late at night,” Mr Lewis said.
Adding, “They were in fact picking up the precursors for explosives. That was all the lead we needed.”
The attack was ultimately foiled on December 22, 2016 by police who had been listening to their preparations and watching as they carried out reconnaissance at Federation Square based on the young ASIO officer’s report.
The guilty verdict followed seven days of deliberations and eight weeks of evidence including from Hamza’s older brother Ibrahim Abbas, 24, who confessed his involvement to police and pleaded guilty earlier this year.
During court, Mohamed and Chaarani were seen laughing and smiling at each other as their verdicts were read. Mohamed grinned at his family while Hamza gave them a thumbs up.
Police were reportedly spotted leaving court carrying two machetes bought by Chaarani and Ibrahim in preparation for the attack.
The group were also in possession of ingredients to make pipe bombs using a recipe they found in an al-Qaida magazine article called “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.”
Ibrahim revealed during the trial that he believed it was “fine for me to kill Australians” because Muslims have been killed in wars involving Australia.
“It’s not hard to kill a person with a machete. It just takes one slice to the neck,” he said in his police interview.
The men will face a plea hearing before being sentenced.