Alleged conspirators in a terror plot to attack an Australian army base hated non-Muslims and described their planned suicide mission as a "great, monstrous thing," a court heard Tuesday.
Phone calls between the men and with an Islamic cleric in Somalia that were intercepted by police show the suspects thought they could kill up to 10 soldiers in about 20 minutes before being killed themselves in the attack, according to police records presented to the court.
Some further details of the alleged plot have emerged this week in a bail hearing in the Melbourne Magistrate's Court for three of five men arrested earlier this month and charged with conspiring to plot a terrorist attack.
Police allege the men — all Australian citizens with Somali or Lebanese origins — planned to send a team of gunmen into one of Australia's largest military bases, Holsworthy Barracks on Sydney's outskirts, and go on a shooting spree until they were killed.
Members of the group are allegedly connected to Al-Shabab, a Somali extremist organization that is fighting the African nation's transitional government. It is believed to have links to al-Qaida.
The suspects, arrested in raids in the southern city of Melbourne earlier this month, each face life in prison if convicted.
Australian Federal Police agent David Kinton told the court on Tuesday that phone intercepts revealed a common theme of conversations held by one of the suspects, Saney Edow Aweys, was "hatred towards Australia and Australian people and anyone who doesn't follow Islam."
On Monday, the court was read a transcript of an alleged conversation between Aweys and another suspect, Abdirahman Ahmed, in which Aweys described the attack plan and said the group knew where to get guns.
"Their desire is to fan out as much as possible ... until they would be hit," Aways is cited as saying. "Twenty minutes would be enough for us to take out five, six, 10, eight, whatever. Allah knows."
Police allege some of the suspects had been to Somalia and may have fought alongside or been trained with Al-Shabab members, and that the group sought the approval of an Islamic cleric in the African country to undertake their attack in Australia.
The court also heard Monday that the alleged ringleader of the plot, Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, told a third suspect, Nayaf El Sayed, that he wanted "to strike big" if the attack was approved by a cleric in Somalia, according to a conversation intercepted by police.
"We are working together on a great, monstrous thing," Fattal told El Sayed, the police transcript said. "We need to persevere."
Magistrate Peter Reardon is yet to decide whether to grant the three suspects bail.