A self-confessed terrorist who was the ringleader in a plot to wreak havoc in Melbourne on Christmas day 2016 will spend at least the next two decades in prison.
Ibrahim Abbas, 24, was sentenced by the Victorian Supreme Court in September after pleading guilty to conspiring “in preparation for a terrorist act”, which was due to target landmarks including Melbourne’s Federation Square.
Details of Abbas’ sentence were made public on Friday following the conclusion earlier this month of a trial against his co-conspirators – brother Hamza Abbas, cousin Abdullah Chaarani and friend Ahmed Mohamed – who were each found guilty by a jury of the same charge.
In his sentencing remarks, Justice Andrew Tinney said Abbas’ crime would have shocked Australia “to the core”.
“It would have represented a shocking and entirely unjustified attack upon our democratic system, a system under which you were brought up and have always lived but whose rules you so flagrantly chose to ignore,” he said.
“I am satisfied that the plan to carry out this attack was well advanced, that the attack was imminent and that your timely arrest by the dedicated and expert investigators of the Joint Counter Terrorism Team was all that prevented a devastating and murderous terrorist attack in the heart of the City of Melbourne.”
Abbas and his accomplices purchased chemicals and other items to make bombs, bought “bladed weapons” and conducted reconnaissance of the area around Federation Square, the judge said.
They planned to detonate the bombs and use weapons with the intention of violent jihad on the Australian public.
Ibrahim Abbas was born in Melbourne and was living with his wife and child in the northern Melbourne suburb of Campbellfield when he plotted the deadly attack.
He pledged allegiance to Islamic State via Facebook in 2014 after coming back to radical Islam at age 19.
In a police interview quoted in Justice Tinney’s sentencing, Abbas says he was at the “forefront” of the group and the main instigator of the plans.
“With regards to my brother, I was pushing him as much as I can so he could join me in this act because I was trying to create a group and he was hesitant, very, very hesitant, he did not want to do it and I was forcing it upon him…and I’d try to do whatever I can to bash my views onto him.”
Abbas said he was equally pushy with the Chaarani and Mohamed.
Justice Tinney sentenced Ibrahim Abbas to a maximum of 24 years, with a non-period of 20 years.
Had Abbas not pleaded guilty, his sentence would have been 28 years with a non-parole period of 23 years, the judge said.
The maximum penalty for the crime of planning a terrorist attack is life in prison.
Abbas’ brother Hamza Abbas, cousin Abdullah Chaarani and friend Ahmed Mohamed are yet to be sentenced.