An Australian court has convicted five Muslim men of plotting to commit
an act of terrorism. The men were found guilty of stockpiling
bomb-making instructions and purchasing explosive chemicals in pursuit
of what prosecutors called "violent jihad." Each face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The New South Wales Supreme Court heard that the group planned to use bombs or firearms to commit "extreme violence" to punish Australia for its involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The jury viewed more than 3,000 exhibits and heard from more than 300 witnesses. It was told one man participated in a terrorist-run paramilitary camp in Pakistan, while three others received similar training in remote parts of Australia in preparation for an attack.
The men were arrested in 2005 on information provided by hardware store and gun shop owners. Prosecutors accused them of conspiring to commit terrorist attacks, but never divulged their intended target.
The trial began in November 2008 and lasted more than 170 days - one of the longest in Australian legal history.
The New South Wales police commissioner, Andrew Scipione, welcomed the guilty verdicts.
"It is a very strong statement," he said. "If you come here with a view to committing an act of terrorism you are likely to be caught."
Outside the court in Sydney, there were angry scenes as supporters of the convicted men scuffled with members of the press.
Relatives expressed their disbelief at the jury's decision.
Male: "My uncle - the best person, like, he used to go with me to boxing fights because I was a boxer and he used train me."
Female: "It is unfair because he has done nothing wrong."
The five men face life in prison and are expected to be sentenced in December.
Four other men, accused of being part of the same conspiracy, had previously pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to up to 14 years in prison.