November 11, 2005

Terror suspect stockpiled chemicals: court

SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian man, one of 18 arrested in
recent days on terror charges, attended covert meetings in 2005
with the other accused to discuss explosives and their
packaging, a Sydney court was told on Friday.

Mirsad Mulahalilovic, 29, appeared shackled and wearing
orange overalls in a video link to the court from the high
security Silverwater Jail in Sydney.

The Central Local Court heard that Mulahalilovic, arrested
on Tuesday in Australia's biggest counter-terrorism swoop, was
part of a group of eight men in Sydney charged with organizing
a terrorist attack and being members of a terrorist

Mulahalilovic was charged with "perpetuating terrorist

Prosecutor Wendy Abrahams told the court Mulahalilovic had
stockpiled hydrochloric acid and had been in contact with
another man with a bombing-making manual which used the acid.

She said that during 2005, Mulahalilovic attended secret
meetings at the homes of a number of the other accused, where
instructions for packaging and explosives were discussed.

In June 2005 police found a computer memory stick in the
home of one of the accused with instructions and images for the
manufacture of an explosive known as TATP, which used
hydrochloric acid as an ingredient, she said.

British officials say they suspect the July 21 bombs in
London were made of TATP, or triacetone triperoxide.

The court also heard that Mulahalilovic, who came to
Australia as a refugee from Yugoslavia with his parents in
1996, had purchased some plastic caps or plastic pipes.

Defense lawyer Phillip Boulten said there was no suggestion
the acid or pipes would be used for any terrorism-related
activity, saying his client was a painter and part-time
handyman which explained why he had bought hydrochloric acid.

He said there was no evidence to suggest his client was
checking out potential sites or targets or that he planned to
travel to Southeast Asia or the Middle East.

In arguing for bail, Boulten said Mulahalilovic was being
treated like a terror suspect at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison
in Cuba.

Boulten said Mulahalilovic was forced to wear orange
overalls and had his hands shackled to his waist and his legs
shackled together. He said he spent 20 hours a day in a small
cell and was only allowed out to walk in a small adjacent yard.

Magistrate Allan Moore refused bail, saying the alleged
activities could have created "a great disturbance."

Another seven Sydney man arrested on Tuesday will appear in
court on December 5. While a man arrested on Thursday night in
Sydney will be transferred to Melbourne.

Nine men arrested in Melbourne on Tuesday on similar terror
offences have been remanded in custody until January 31.

Australia, a staunch U.S. ally with troops in Iraq and
Afghanistan, has never suffered a major peacetime attack on its
home soil. The country has been on medium security alert since
shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United