Australia extends detention of Algerian-born Muslim cleric convicted of terrorism

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A Muslim cleric convicted of leading an Australian terror cell that plotted to kill thousands will have his detention extended for up to three years beyond his original sentence, a court ruled Wednesday.

Algerian-born Abdul Nacer Benbrika was sentenced to 15 years in jail in February 2009 for leading an organization that was committed to violent extremism and had discussed bomb and firearm attacks.

His jail term officially expired in November 2020 but Australia’s government applied to keep him behind bars for up to three additional years, under rarely used provisions aimed at high-risk convicted terrorists.

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Benbrika lost his appeal against the “Continuing Detention Order” in the High Court on Wednesday, with Australia’s top court ruling the law was valid as it “is appropriately tailored to protecting the community from the singular threat posed by terrorist criminal activity.”

His lawyers had argued the federal government did not have the power to impose the order.

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Benbrika and his followers were arrested in November 2005 after Australia strengthened laws to detain those in the early stages of planning terror acts following the London transport bombings in July that year.

He was stripped of his Australian citizenship in late 2020, marking the first time a person who was still inside the country had their citizenship revoked.

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