May 9, 2019 / 10:55 AM / in 16 days

Three convicted of terrorism over Australian mosque arson attack

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - An Australian jury on Thursday found three men guilty of terrorism after they set fire to a mosque in the southern state of Victoria in December 2016.

Sunni Muslims Ahmed Mohamed, Abdullah Chaarani and Hatim Moukhaiber set fire to a Shi’ite mosque in a suburb of Melbourne.

Two had plotted an attack in central Melbourne just weeks later and were convicted of conspiring to plan a terrorist attack last year. They had bought machetes and explosives and tried to get a gun licence before they were arrested, according to media reports.

The three have yet to be sentenced.

Australia, a staunch U.S. ally that sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, has been on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East or their supporters.

Last year, a Somali-born man set fire to a pickup truck laden with gas cylinders in the centre of Melbourne and stabbed three people, killing one, before he was shot by police.

Earlier this month, an Australian court found a man guilty of plotting to blow up a an Etihad Airways flight out of Sydney under the orders of Islamic State.

Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Nick Macfie

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