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22 August 2017

Melbourne terror charges: Men face court over mosque fires

Police tape outside Melbourne's Imam Ali Islamic Centre, after a fire last yearImage copyright
ABC/ Iskandar Razak

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Melbourne’s Imam Ali Islamic Centre was twice hit by fire

Three men have faced a court charged with terrorism offences over alleged arson attacks on an Australian mosque.

The two alleged attacks in Melbourne were inspired by so-called Islamic State and targeted a Shia Islamic centre, according to police.

No-one was hurt in the fires in November and December last year.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) alleges the attacks were designed to intimidate those who attend the mosque and the wider Islamic community.

“We are not saying these are just arson attacks,” said Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney on Sunday.

“What we are going to allege is that these were Islamic State-inspired attacks. They were inspired and designed to influence, [to] put fear into a particular group in the community.”

Two men, aged 25 and 27, were charged over both fires at the Imam Ali Islamic Centre, while a third man, 29, was charged over the December incident. They cannot be named for legal reasons.

Police allege the suspects “adhere to an extremist Sunni ideology”.

The three men faced the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court late on Monday.

The hearing was told a large amount of material would need to be translated from a foreign language, before the matter was adjourned until 27 November.

If convicted, the men face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

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