New article on the Holsworthy Barracks plot

The CTC Sentinel has published an article of mine on the Holsworthy Barracks plot, one of Australia’s key terrorism cases.

For those new  to the case, on December 2011 three Melbourne men were sentenced for plotting a mass shooting at Holsworthy Army Barracks in Sydney. Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, Saney Edow Aweys and Nayef El Sayed had been found guilty of conspiring to prepare for or plan a terrorist act between February and August 2009.

A new development occurred last week. The prosecution was appealing the length of their sentences of eighteen years imprisonment. The appeal was scheduled for Monday 18 June, but the counsel for the three offenders announced they were appealing the convictions altogether. The judge agreed to adjourn the sentence hearing until the conviction appeals were ready.

My article examines the plot and is based entirely on open sources, including the sentencing document, a collection of media reports of the investigation and court proceedings, and academic writings. Unfortunately, the amount of open source material appeal on this plot is limited compared to some other terrorism cases like Operation Pendennis. Hopefully more court documents will become publicly available when the appeals are settled, which I will use to revisit the arguments made in the article.

The article uses the plot as a study of how an internal threat emerged from what began as a diaspora-based support network for an external insurgency, in this case the al-Shabab movement in Somalia. It argues that the transformation did not occur through overseas instigation or online radicalisation, but through the involvement of non-diaspora-based ideological sympathisers, socially linked to an earlier cell, determined on revenge, and restricted from traveling for jihad abroad. The article shows that while the Somali connection was new, the plot developed through processes characteristic of Australia’s jihadist scene, which has so far been small, interlinked and closely-monitored.

Take a look, and be sure to also read the other articles in this month’s issue of CTC Sentinel by Christopher Swift, James Brandon, Lorenzo Vidino, Adam Elkus, John P. Sullivan, Christopher Anzalone and Zachary Abuza.

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