By Erin Pearson
1 October 2018
The confession of an educated, middle-class
terror plotter has been played in the Supreme Court as three co-accused face
trial over the alleged 2016 plan to cause mass carnage at Melbourne landmarks
with bombs and knives.
The Age can now reveal for the first time
that prosecution witness Ibrahim Abbas, 24, entered a plea of guilty earlier
this year to conspiring to and preparing for a terrorist attack.
Born in East Melbourne, Abbas went to Darul
Ulum College of Victoria, in Fawkner, before beginning tertiary studies.
The court heard that he was an intelligent
young man from Melbourne’s middle-class whose fast descent into extremism saw
him seek out YouTube videos to inspire his beliefs.
He told police that when he began studying
at Swinburne University in 2011 his faith had been attacked as he was
surrounded by drugs and alcohol. It was that and the subsequent death of a
family member that drew him back to Islam.
“After [a relative] passed away, um, I
began to re-evaluate my belief in God and I began to believe in God again, and
then thereafter I became religious and started to seek knowledge, familiarise
myself with the faith and I became religious after that,” he told the court.
“At the beginning, I didn't confine myself
to one set of scholars, I just - in the beginning I learned religion in a very
general sense. Eventually I began to incline towards other scholars.
“At the time I knew he [Osama Bin Laden]
was the leader of Al-Qaeda.”
In 2014, a caliphate was announced by Islamic
State - a religious goal that subjects a land to Sharia law.
A caliphate insists on people pledging
their allegiance and encouraging people to commit attacks - jihad - in the land
of the infidels who they believe are hostile towards this Muslim faith.
This, he said, includes Australia.
In 2014, Abbas was studying civil
engineering and was a keen student, but told the jury he found the work “too
He lived in Flemington, then Hawthorn
before moving out to Campbellfield with his wife in 2016.
It would be that address where he was
eventually arrested on December 22, 2016.
Abbas regularly attended Hume Islamic Youth
Centre, a mosque complex in Coolaroo. It was there, he says, that he spoke to
others about his views on Islamic State and what needed to be done - jihad.
“You could ram people with a car, you can
use a knife attack, you can shoot people.
“The whole point of jihad is martyrdom.
Martyrdom is attaining death through acts of jihad. Your sins are erased and
you are granted paradise.
“For the general Muslim population who are
not martyrs, they don't enter paradise until the world is over.”
Abbas wanted to carry out his attack in a
place of congregation where the casualty toll would be high.
He described the aim as: “The bigger, the
more terror is achieved, and that's the point.”
This week he gave evidence in the terror
trial of friend Ahmed Mohamed, 25, cousin Abdullah Chaarani, 27, and brother
Hamza Abbas, 23, who are also alleged to have conspired to target places of
congregation including Federation Square.
Those three have pleaded not guilty.
In a white room with a red door Ibrahim
Abbas made partial confessions to his charge during his initial police
interview, which was played to the jury on Monday.
“I’m going to let you know everything that was
said by me,” he told AFP officers.
“I’m done with all these questions and
“Australia is attacking Muslims in the
During his lengthy police interview in the
hours after his December 22, 2016 arrest Abbas said his plans and views were
discussed in places including in the gym at the Hume Islamic Youth Centre.
The court heard the former university
student later joined an encrypted chat group with people from Melbourne and
Sydney where he posted under the handle ShiaSlayer.
Abbas also detailed to police his wish for
Australia to be ruled under Sharia law.
“If Sharia was applied in Australia they
would all the people would fall under a contract. Whoever does not sign that
contract either leaves the country or is executed,” he said.
The jury has heard that the week before his
arrest Abbas had discussed his impending desires with Mr Mohamed while police
secretly listened on.
Abbas displayed a wish to enter “paradise”,
a perceived Islamic afterlife only granted to Muslims at either the end of the
world or, in the eyes of Islamic State, immediately upon death through jihad.
The Crown alleges that the agreement
contemplated the use of improvised explosives, bladed weapons, firearms to wage
violent jihad against those they considered to be disbelievers, also known as
According to this ideology Australia is one
of the group of Western nations regarded as enemies of Islamic State.
The Crown alleges the three conspired with
Ibrahim Abbas to commit acts in preparation of a terrorist attack.
The alleged acts include the purchase of
chemicals and explosive substances for the use in the manufacture of improvised
The trial of Mr Mohamed, Mr Chaarani and
Hamza Abbas continues before Justice Beale and a jury of 14.