News State Victoria News Terrorist ‘disgusted’ by extremism path

Terrorist ‘disgusted’ by extremism path

Abdullah Chaarani, centre, with Ahmed Mohamed (left) and Ibrahim Abbas (right). Photo: AAP
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A twice-convicted terrorist says he’s disgusted by his part in a plot to detonate bombs and behead people in Melbourne’s Federation Square three years ago.

Abdullah Chaarani has told a Supreme Court pre-sentence hearing he has “realised what an idiot” he was for believing he could wage violent jihad after getting caught up in extremist beliefs fuelled by Islamic State propaganda.

He joined his cousins Ibrahim Abbas and Hamza Abbas, and friend Ahmed Mohamed, in conspiring to develop the potentially deadly plot, for which they’d bought machetes, carried out a reconnaissance and built practice bombs.

Chaarani told the court on Wednesday his father had warned him the IS videos and propaganda he was watching would land him in jail.

He admitted crying when his father visited him in prison.

“It was the most embarrassing, most humiliating moment of my life,” Chaarani said.

“He said ‘you embarrassed me, you shocked me, this is not my son’.”

Chaarani told Justice Christopher Beale – who will sentence him over the plot next month – that he had renounced Islamic State and his former extremist jihadi views.

He had begun a path to reforming his views about Islam, including by reading books recommended by imams and through his father, admitting he’d never picked up a book before and learned only from extremist propaganda.

A formal prison de-radicalisation program is not available until after sentencing, but Chaarani revealed he wished he could have started it the day he was arrested.

Asked by his lawyer Patrick Tehan if he was sorry, Chaarani replied “you have no idea”.

“I’m sorry for the havoc I’ve caused to my family foremost (and) to the legal system,” he said.

He also denied he was only speaking up now to get a reduced sentence. Mohamed also renounced Islamic State and his former extremist views in the witness box on Tuesday.

Both are already serving up to 22 years behind bars over a firebomb attack on a mosque in Melbourne’s north in December 2016.

Chaarani said he had pleaded not guilty to the charge on the advice of his lawyers and had not spoken up earlier because he had “stage fright”.

Mohamed, Chaarani and Hamza Abbas are due to be sentenced on November 29.

Ibrahim Abbas pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 24 years prison, with 20 years before he’s eligible for parole.