Three convicted of terrorism over Australian mosque arson attack

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - An Australian jury on Thursday (May 9) 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 of them 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 United States 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 an Etihad Airways flight out of Sydney under the orders of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).