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Australia jails three for decades over Christmas bomb plot in 2016

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By Reuters

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A court in Australia sentenced three men on Friday to decades in prison for plotting bomb attacks on Christmas Day in 2016 at key sites in the southeastern city of Melbourne, police said.

The men were found guilty last year of planning the attacks in Australia’s second city in what authorities called “an imminent terrorist event” inspired by militant group Islamic State.

A 24-year-old man, Hamza Abbas, was jailed for 22 years, while Ahmed Mohamed, 25, and Abdullah Chaarani, 29, were jailed for 38 years including sentences for another attack, the Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

Supreme Court judge Christopher Beale said the three had embraced Islamic State ideology and believed the planned attack would be pleasing to Allah, the Australian Broadcasting Corp said.

“The stupidity of that belief was matched only by its malevolence,” the broadcaster quoted Beale as saying.

It was not immediately clear if the men would appeal their sentences. A lawyer for Abbas declined to comment, while lawyers for the other two could not immediately be reached for comment.

The plan was “one of the most substantial terrorist plots disrupted over the last several years”, then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said after the men were charged in 2016.

They had targeted locations such as Federation Square, Flinders Street Station and St Paul’s Cathedral for attack “possibly on Christmas Day”, authorities said. The suspects had been under surveillance for weeks, police said at the time.

One of the men was an Egyptian-born Australian and the others were Australian-born of Lebanese descent, police said.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)