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Australia jails architect for terror plot

Wednesday 23 August 2006, 6:09 Makka Time, 3:09 GMT  
The plot allegedly involved targeting Sydney's power grid
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A Pakistan-born architect accused of plotting a "jihad" bombing campaign in Australia has been sentenced to 20 years in jai.
Faheem Khalid Lodhi, 36, was charged with planning to blow up the electrical grid in the city of Sydney as well as several defence sites in 2003.
  
He was convicted on three terrorism-related charges in June and faced a maximum sentence of life in jail.
  
The indictment said Lodhi, who denied four counts of preparing to commit a terrorist act, had "the intent of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause, namely violent jihad”.
French connection
Prosecutors linked Lodhi, also known as Abu Hamza, to Frenchman Willie Brigitte, who was deported in late 2003 after being accused of plotting a major attack in Sydney.
 
Brigitte, who remains in custody in France, is suspected of links to al-Qaeda and both he and Lodhi are alleged to have trained with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant Pakistani group that Australia has banned as a terrorist organisation.
  
Lodhi was convicted of acting in preparation for a terrorist act by seeking information about chemicals capable of making explosives.
  
He was also found guilty of possessing a so-called "terrorism manual" and of buying two maps of the electricity grid, connected with preparation for a terrorist act.
  
Lodhi, who has Australian citizenship, denied that he had any intention of launching an attack.
  
"This country is my country and these people are my people," he said while giving evidence in his own defence. "The killing of innocent people is not part of Islam."
  
Supreme Court judge Anthony Whealy sentenced Lodhi to a maximum of 20 years jail with a non parole period of 15 years.
AFP

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