MELBOURNE, Australia — A teenager who plotted to run down and behead a police officer in an Anzac Day terrorist attack in Australia after being “corrupted by lunatic clerics” was Monday sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Sevdet Besim, 19, pleaded guilty to “doing an act in preparation, or planning for, a terrorist act” over the 2015 plan to attack commemorations in Melbourne honoring soldiers who fought and died for Australia.
The Victorian Supreme Court had previously heard that Besim discussed the plot in encrypted messages with a British boy, who was 14 at the time.
The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, masterminded the foiled plot from his bedroom in Lancashire, northern England and was jailed for five years last October.
Justice Michael Croucher said Besim’s proposed “putrid act” was aimed at advancing violent jihad, intimidating the government and striking fear into the wider community.
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“To the vast majority of the community, it’s unfathomable an 18-year-old boy planned to kill a law enforcement officer, to crash into him with a car and then behead him with a knife,” Croucher said.
“As part of his planning for this putrid act, Mr Besim conducted internet searches on Anzac Day and places where there might be memorials.
“He had a knife, he had a car, he had a jihad flag, he had the encouragement of S (the British boy), and a mind corrupted by lunatic clerics.
“That was all he needed to commit this atrocity, and he was prepared to die trying.”
The court heard that Besim, who was arrested a week before Anzac Day, was an associate of Numan Haider, who was shot and killed by counter-terrorism forces in 2014 in Melbourne after stabbing two police officers.
Croucher said Besim wanted to go to the Middle East and join the so-called Islamic State, but he was refused a passport and when Haider was killed decided “that he must take up the fight here in Melbourne”.
“Fortunately, however, Mr Besim’s plot was foiled,” he added in sentencing him to 10 years in prison.
Australia raised its threat level to high in September 2014 and has since carried out a series of counter-terrorism raids, with alarm fueled by the departure of dozens of its nationals to Iraq and Syria to fight with jihadists.
A handful of terror-related attacks have been foiled on home soil over the past 18 months, authorities have said, but several have taken place, including the murder of a Sydney police employee last year.