Australia's First Terrorist Has Served His Sentence, But Won't Be Allowed Out
Faheem Lodhi hatched a chilling terror plot, to bomb the nation's power grid and military bases -- hoping to cause mass casualties -- and has been locked up for the past 15 years.
In a little over 24 hours’ time he's due to walk out of one of the nation's toughest jails Goulburn Supermax but 10 News First can exclusively reveal the Federal Attorney-General has stepped in, to ensure Lodhi remains behind bars.
Lodhi planned to unleash terror on a mass scale. Armed with a so called "jihadi cd" filled with violent propaganda and a terrorist how to guide on explosives a judge found his plot was ready to.
In October 2003, the architect by trade, collected aerials of military bases including Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney and maps of the nation's electricity supply network. Then he tried to order the chemicals needed to make bombs.
He is the first Australian to be convicted for planning a terror attack.
A court heard Lohdi met with notorious French terrorist Willie Brigitte, who visited Australia. Brigitte went on to be involved in attacks around the world including the 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.
But ASIO spies were watching and the then 34-year-old Lodhi became the first person convicted of planning an attack on home soil.
He’s spent the past 15 years in Goulburn Supermax prison and was due to walk free on parole this Sunday. But the government has decided he won’t be going anywhere because he’s still a threat.
"Parole decisions take into account a range of factors, most important of which is community safety," Attorney-General Christian Porter office told 10 daily.
Lohdi’s maximum sentence of 20 years expires in 2024 but there’s a good chance he’ll remain behind bars well beyond that date.
Dr Nicola McGarrity has prosecuted a number of high profile terror cases and is a senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales.
“I'm not surprised to hear that he's not getting parole, while some individuals have been paroled when they've previously been convicted of terrorism offences they're certainly the exception rather than the rule,” she said.
Changes to anti-terror laws in 2017 means the government now has the power to keep inmates convicted of terror charges behind bars well beyond the expiry of their sentence.
"Traditionally what would occur when someone's head sentence expires is that they’d be released into the community unconditionally," McGarrity said.
She said given the "terrorism context today" processes have had to change.
There is now the prospect of a continuing detention order being made in relation to a high risk offender.
"Which if the court finds that there is a high probability of the person continuing to pose an unacceptable risk to community safety, they may be detained really indefinitely."
With time served and good behaviour, Lodhi was due to be released on April 20.
Contact the author firstname.lastname@example.org