SYDNEY • A 22-year-old Australian man described as a "devout terrorist" was sentenced to 22 years and six months in prison yesterday for plotting to attack government buildings in Sydney, as the authorities grapple with the rise of home-grown Islamist extremism.
Sulayman Khalid was handed the sentence at the New South Wales Supreme Court after pleading guilty to conspiring to act in preparation for a terrorist attack.
He was arrested during a series of police raids in Sydney and Brisbane in late 2014. Four others, including a teenager, were jailed for between nine and 18 years for similar or lesser offences - such as intentionally making a document connected with the preparation of a terrorist act.
Khalid "occupied a coordinating role" in the plot, Justice Geoffrey Bellew wrote in his ruling.
"In offending as he did, Khalid demonstrated that he was a devout terrorist," he added.
Australia has become increasingly worried about home-grown extremism and officials say they have prevented 13 terror attacks in recent years. But several have taken place, including the murder of a Sydney police employee in 2015 by a 15-year-old boy, who was then killed in an exchange of gunfire with officers.
Khalid adhered to the "religious ideology of Wahhabi-Salafism", said Justice Bellew, in his ruling. "The cause that was to be advanced in the proposed terrorist act or acts was that of violent jihad... The offender had publicly displayed his support for the violent jihad espoused by ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria)," he said.
The group had been planning to kill police officers and attack government buildings, and had considered using weapons such as firearms, Justice Bellew added.