ISIS radical ideology blamed for the Victoria mosque fire
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Three young men were inspired by Islamic State propaganda when they set fire to a mosque for believers of the Shia minority, a Melbourne court has been told.
Ahmed Mohamed, Abdullah Chaarani and Hatim Moukhaiber faced the Supreme Court of Victoria on Monday charged with engaging in a terrorist act after the Imam Ali Islamic Centre at Fawkner was destroyed on December 11, 2016.
Mohamed and Chaarani are also charged with attempting to engage in a terrorist act over an earlier arson attack on the mosque on November 25 the same year.
The trio has pleaded not guilty.
The men, who were 22, 26 and 28 at the time, were followers of an “extreme brand” of the Islamic Sunni majority, crown prosecutor Nicholas Robinson QC told the jury on Monday.
He said all three played a part “in the act of burning down the Fawkner mosque”.
“In doing so, they were seeking to advance a religious or ideological cause – in this case, Sunni Islam,” Mr Robinson said.
“In doing so they intended to intimidate … Shia muslims.”
He said the first fire in November 2016 “extinguished itself” so the men returned with what “seems to be” a hammer and a container filled with fuel, with the fire this time spreading rapidly.
Police seized phones belonging to the three men and their wives, Mr Robinson said.
The men were inspired by “the extreme ideology of Islamic State”, which at the time was calling on followers to declare their faith, while releasing propaganda containing “horrific violence” against soldiers and civilians, he added.
“The videos encourage sympathisers to carry out attacks against the enemies,” Mr Robinson said.
“The Shia believers are seen to be rejectors of the true Islam.”
Mr Robinson is scheduled to continue his opening address to the jury on Tuesday.