The money quote comes from the sister of one of Muslims convicted of plotting to murder on a massive scale: "She said her brother was a devoted Muslim, not an extremist".
THE Sydney men found guilty yesterday of terrorism offences had been plotting murder on a massive scale, having stockpiled 30,000 rounds of ammunition, bomb-making equipment and explosive chemicals with the intention of exacting revenge on Australia for its military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After one of the longest and most expensive trials in Australian history - the combined cost of the NSW police investigation and the taxpayer-funded Legal Aid defence of the five accused was almost $30million - the terrorist quintet were convicted of conspiracy to do acts in preparation for a terrorist act or acts.
A successful economic jihad.
The men are now facing the possibility of life in prison when they are sentenced by NSW Supreme Court judge Anthony Whealy in coming months.
And it can now be revealed that four other men involved in the conspiracy pleaded guilty to terrorism offences before the trial began in November last year.
The jury delivered its verdict after deliberating for more than a month, having sat through 10 months of evidence, including testimony from 300 witnesses and more than 3000 exhibits.
It was, by the prosecution's own admission, a circumstantial case. At no stage did the prosecution claim the men decided who or what they intended to attack.
However, the jury accepted the prosecution argument that the men were plotting violent jihad on Australian soil.
One of the men had links to Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba, another was observed buying thousands of rounds of ammunition from a Sydney gunshop, others stockpiled large quantities of chemicals known to be precursors for high-powered explosives; while most of the men attended bush training camps in rural NSW, where they underwent paramilitary exercises that police claimed were in preparation for violent jihad.
The nine men were arrested in November 2005 in simultaneous raids on their homes across Sydney, but the case did not go to trial for another three years, as the prosecutors compiled what one defence counsel called a "tsunami" of evidence.
Following the convictions, AFP Commissioner Tony Negus said yesterday the conspiracy had the potential to cause widespread loss of life. "We're talking about the capability here to effect a significant atrocity on Australia," Mr Negus said.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione refused to speculate about the terrorists' target, but he did draw parallels with the Mumbai attacks of last year.
"If they think this will stop terrorism, imprisoning these people, I don't think it will stop terrorism. I think it will increase the threat on Australia."
The sister of one of the terrorists claimed the verdict against her brother was unfair, but said he would be prepared to endure a lifetime in jail.
She said her brother was a devoted Muslim, not an extremist, and accused ASIO of using extremist or terrorist tactics in investigating the men.