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Trial begins of 12 Melbourne men on terrorism -

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LEIGH SALES: Australia's biggest terrorism trial began in Melbourne today. Twelve men who were
arrested and charged two years ago stand accused of forming a home grown terrorist group.

The prosecution told the Supreme Court it would present evidence that the men were hoping to launch
an attack on Australian soil and wanted to target a busy place like a football stadium to maximise
casualties.

Conor Duffy reports from Melbourne.

CONOR DUFFY: Police surrounded the entrance to the court and once the 12 defendants were inside, a
dozen officers ringed them in the dock.

The accused have all pleaded not guilty to the terror charges and it's estimated the trial before a
jury of 15 could run all year.

The prosecutor, Richard Maidment SC, told the court the case against the defendants is largely
based on the results of phone taps and secret listening devices in their homes.

Mr Maidment says the jury will hear almost 500 conversations as the Crown puts its case that the 12
formed a home-grown terror organisation with 47-year-old Abdul Nacer Benbrika as its leader.

"The organisation was exclusively male and exclusively Muslim... the accused, Benbrika, was its
director and leader (Richard Maidment SC)."

Mr Maidment says the group considered an attack overseas, but its preferred option was Australia.

He said, "The kind of terrorist act contemplated by the organisation included a bombing attack
where maximum damage and loss of life could be inflicted, such as at a football ground or a railway
station."

Richard Maidment says the group had not decided on a specific target, but drew inspiration from
overseas terrorist attacks like the London bombings.

The prosecution also alleges that Benbrika expressed an admiration for Osama bin Laden and taught
his followers of the benefits of martyrdom, including entry to paradise. The court heard Benbrika
told his followers that in carrying out an attack it would be acceptable to kill women, children
and the elderly.

Mr Maidment alleges Benbrika told the group such an attack could force the Government to withdraw
from Iraq.

"When we are in Australia, when we do something they stop to send the troops. If you kill here a
thousand, the Government is going to think, because if you get large numbers here, the Government
will listen (Alleged comments by Abdul Nacer Benbrika)."

Mr Maidment also told the jury, "The Crown does not suggest for a moment that the views expressed
by Mr Benbrika properly represent any aspect of the true Islamic religion."

The prosecutors opening address alone is expected to take up to three weeks.

Conor Duffy, Lateline.