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Australian found guilty of plotting attacks

An Australian architect was found guilty on Monday of planning to bomb Sydney defense sites and the city’s electricity grid, becoming the first man to be convicted of plotting attacks under new anti-terrorism laws.
/ Source: Reuters

An Australian architect was found guilty on Monday of planning to bomb Sydney defense sites and the city’s electricity grid, becoming the first man to be convicted of plotting attacks under new anti-terrorism laws.

Pakistan-born Faheem Khalid Lodhi had pleaded not guilty to four charges relating to plans to detonate a home-made bomb at a number of targets in Sydney, Australia’s largest city, as part of a holy war.

A New South Wales Supreme Court jury found him guilty on three charges -- collecting maps of Sydney’s electricity grid, acting in preparation for a terrorist act by gathering information about bomb-making, and possessing documents with information about how to manufacture poisons, a court official told Reuters.

The first and third charges carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail and the second charge carries a maximum life sentence, the official said.

Judge Anthony Whealy said a sentencing hearing would begin on June 29.

Lodhi was acquitted on a fourth charge of downloading aerial photographs of defense facilities from the Internet.

Plan to appeal convictions
Lodhi, 36, sat expressionless as the jury returned its verdict after five days of deliberations spread out over two weeks. His lawyers gave no indication of whether he would appeal against the convictions.

Lodhi told the court he was not a violent religious fanatic and his lawyers said he had the defense photographs because he had worked as an architect at the three sites.

Prosecutors told the court police had found what amounted to a “terrorism manual” when they raided his home in October 2003.

Lodhi, who emigrated to Australia in 1996, was charged under tough new anti-terrorism laws introduced soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Australia is a staunch U.S. ally with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan but has never suffered a major peacetime attack on home soil.

In June 2004, British-born Muslim convert Jack Roche became the first Australian to be convicted under the new laws and was jailed for nine years for conspiring to bomb the Israeli embassy in Canberra.