Abdul Nacer Benbrika was released from prison on Tuesday after serving more than 15 years in prison for terrorism offenses. He wanted to mimic the Al Qaeda attacks in London and Madrid in Australia, prosecutors said. (Image: Herald Sun)
Crown Resorts said this week it would employ facial recognition technology to ensure Benbrika never sets foot in the Crown Melbourne or any of its casinos worldwide.
The radical Muslim cleric was released this week after serving 15 years in prison for membership in a terrorist organization, and for planning terrorist attacks on targets within Australia.
‘Mother of Satan’
Tunisian-born Benbrika was the “spiritual leader” of a terrorist cell that was stockpiling bomb-making chemicals. The cell wanted to create a “terrorist spectacular on the scale of the al-Qaeda attacks on London and Madrid,” according to prosecutors at his 2007 trial.
The jihadists named the bomb they were building as “the Mother of Satan,” according to court documents.
The cell’s list of possible targets included the Crown Melbourne on the weekend of the Australian F1 Grand Prix, as well as the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MGC), and Lucas Heights, a nuclear reactor in Sydney, according to witness testimony. The MGC also confirmed a lifetime ban for Benbrika this week.
Benbrika, also known as Abu Bakr, was arrested with 17 others in Melbourne and Sydney in November 2005. Shortly after his arrest, he praised Osama bin Laden as “a great man” in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
The cleric’s original prison term expired in November 2020, but he was put on a “continuing detention order” for a maximum of three years, while Australia’s immigration minister, Peter Dutton, revoked his Australian citizenship.
But Benbrika won a legal challenge to restore his citizenship after the High Court of Australia determined its removal had been unconstitutional.
‘Walking the Streets’
Benbrika was released by the Victorian Supreme Court on Tuesday, with restrictions on his movement in the community over the next 12 months as part of a one-year extended supervision order (ESO). He has also been ordered to wear an ankle bracelet and must continue attending a deradicalization program.
Opposition lawmakers wanted the cleric to be detained for a further three years.
“Stand up, look Australians in the eye, and actually say they think it’s okay for Benbrika to be walking the streets, to walk amongst us,” opposition Liberal Party leader Sussan Ley said at a press conference Wednesday. “Shame on (Attorney General of Australia) Mark Dreyfus for not stepping up and applying for the continuing detention order that every sane Australia knows was desperately needed in this case.”
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