Case study

This case study details the conviction of Faheem Khalid Lodhi of terrorism offences in 2003. Lodhi was the first person to be found guilty of planning for a terrorist attack in Australia (Case details: Regina v Lodhi [2006] NSWSC 691).

Read Case study - evidence presented at trial for further information about the evidence presented.

Background

In May 2003, a man named Willie Brigitte arrived in Australia from France. In 2001 Brigitte had trained at a terrorist training camp in Pakistan called Lashkar–e–Taiba (this is one of the terrorist organisations listed in Australia’s Criminal Code Regulations).

A few days before Brigitte arrived in Australia, Faheem Khalid Lodhi set up a mobile phone account in a false name. Two calls were made from Brigitte’s phone in France to the phone – one on 7 May 2003 and the second one on 13 May 2003, the day before Brigitte left France for Australia.

There was evidence that although Lodhi had previously never met Brigitte, arrangements had been made for him to meet and collect Brigitte when he arrived in Sydney. They did meet and spent most of that day together.

The connecting link between Lodhi and Brigitte was a man in Pakistan known as ‘Sajid’. Lodhi met Sajid in Pakistan at a mosque during 2002 and again in 2003. The evidence established that Sajid coordinated a liaison between Lodhi and Brigitte in Sydney to explore the possibility of terrorist actions in Australia.

In October 2003, French authorities notified Australian authorities that Brigitte had a substantial connection with terrorism. This led to his sudden detention and deportation to France.

Just before Brigitte’s detention, Lohdi obtained maps of the electrical supply system in Sydney using false identification. He also requested a list of chemical prices by fax using a false company name.

The trial

Lodhi was arrested on 22 August 2004 as part of a joint operation between state and federal police and intelligence services. He was charged with terrorist related offences and was ordered to stand trial in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court trial concluded on 19 June 2006, and Lodhi was sentenced on 23 August 2006.

The court was satisfied that the connecting link between Lohdi and Brigitte was their joint interest in contemplating and discussing the possibility of terrorist activity in Australia.

Lodhi claimed that obtaining the electricity grid maps had nothing to do with terrorist related activities, but the court found that Lodhi’s explanations were untrue. They determined the real reason he gave a false name, telephone number and address was that he did not want his own identity to be known. This was because he intended to use the maps in a plan to bomb part of the Australian electricity supply system.

Not only were Lodhi’s intentions evident through his association with Brigitte and Sajid, but he also possessed a significant amount of incriminating material including a CD–Rom described as the ‘jihadi CD’. This CD was a virtual library encouraging the reader to undertake violent jihad, justifications for suicide bombings, and glorifying those who had given their lives to the murder of innocent civilians and others in the name of extremist Islam.

Lodhi also possessed a handwritten “terrorism manual for the manufacture of homemade poisons, explosives, detonators and incendiary devices”, including formulas for homemade grenades and petrol bombs referred to as the ‘Urdu document’.

Outcome

The court was satisfied Lodhi’s plans to bomb the electricity system had only reached a very early stage, but still convicted him of “possessing things connected with terrorist acts” and sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment.

On a second more serious charge of “acts in preparation for a terrorist offence” relating to attempting to source chemicals that were in the terrorism manual he received a sentence of 20 years imprisonment.

For the third charge relating to the possession of the ‘Urdu document’ Lodhi received a sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

On each count the court was satisfied that Lodhi intended to use the maps and the list of chemicals in a plot to cause the detonation of an explosive or explosives to advance the cause of violent jihad and intimidate the government and the public.

The seriousness of this type of offence can be seen by the penalty imposed by the court. Even though Lodhi was in the very early stages carrying out the offences, he still received substantial punishment for his part in the preparation for terrorist acts.

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