Wed, Jul 21, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Australian to stand trial over plans to kidnap, kill officials

INTIMIDATION A young supermarket stacker allegedly wanted to carry out killings for political reasons and because he was denied a passport

AFP , SYDNEY

A young Australian-born Muslim was ordered yesterday to stand trial over alleged plans to kidnap and execute officers in Australia's spy agency and foreign ministry.

Zeky "Zak" Mallah will be tried for planning a terrorist act and threatening to seriously harm an undercover federal official.

The 21-year-old supermarket stacker has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Prosecutor Desmond Fagan told a Sydney court Mallah had intended to die in the attack and that he had been "prepared to take hostages" and "kill at least two" federal agents.

undercover agent

Mallah, who had been under police investigation for some time, was charged after an undercover operative posing as a freelance journalist had offered late last year to publish his story.

Fagan said Mallah sold the agent a videotape, a transcript of his final message and photos of himself for US$3,000.

Mallah wanted to use the money to clear debts before becoming a martyr, Fagan said.

It was alleged that Mallah told the undercover agent that he planned to buy a gun to attack and kill an officer either of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation or of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Sydney.

fiance

Fagan said while Mallah's plan was sparked by an Australian government refusal to grant him a passport so he could marry his fiance in Lebanon in 2002, his motivations were "not purely personal."

"His political motivation broadly speaking was he wished to intimidate the Australian government," he said.

Mallah believed the government was persecuting Muslims and wanted to force it to soften its anti-terror policies, he said.

Mallah's arrest came amid heightened investigations by counter-terrorism authorities in the Sydney vicinity following the deportation of a Frenchman, Willie Brigitte, who is suspected of working with the al-Qaeda network.

newspaper profile

The Australian-born son of Lebanese immigrants, Mallah was profiled last year on the front page of The Australian newspaper under the headline "The suburban world of an angry young man."

During an earlier hearing on the case, Mallah's lawyer Adam Houda expressed concern about his client's mental state and requested he undergo a medical appraisal and be closely monitored while in custody.

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