The brother of a terrorist who stabbed a cafe owner to death has himself pleaded guilty to planning a mass shooting to ‘advance the cause of Islam’.
Somali-Australian Ali Khalif Shire Ali, 22, admitted trying to get a firearm and ammunition in a plot to attack Melbourne’s Federation Square, a popular public place, on New Year’s Eve in 2017.
The Victorian Supreme Court on Wednesday heard Ali planned the attack to ‘advance the cause of Islam through violence’, ABC News reported.
Ali is the younger brother of 30-year-old Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, who fatally stabbed Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar owner Sisto Malaspina, 74, in November last year.
The killer was shot at the scene by police and later died in hospital.
The younger sibling had previously denied his terror charge in a committal hearing in Melbourne Magistrates Court.
He had been subjected to a lengthy police investigation, with a phone tap in place from October 2016 until his arrest, the court was told at the committal hearing.
Ali was also subject to physical surveillance and his spending activity was tracked.
He has been in custody since November 2017, when police arrested him at a Werribee shopping strip.
It was alleged he attempted to buy a gun for the attack, was described as an ‘ISIL sympathiser’ and allegedly accessed an al-Qaeda guidebook with information on how to commit a terrorist act and use firearms.
Police at the time said the human cost of the plot would have been ‘catastrophic … horrendous’.
It is not the first time Federation Square has been the target of terrorism plots.
In November last year, Ibrahim Abbas was jailed for 24 years after admitting he planned a terror attack on Federation Square, Flinders Street Station and St Paul’s Cathedral for Christmas Day 2016.
His co-conspirators Hamza Abbas, Abdullah Chaarani and Ahmed Mohamed are yet to be sentenced after being found guilty by a Supreme Court jury.
The plot was foiled just days before the attack by police who had been listening to their preparations and watching as they carried out reconnaissance at Federation Square.
A pre-sentence plea hearing for Ali has been set down for August 23.