Judge's scathing put-down of tiny terrorist
A judge has launched a scathing put-down of tiny terrorist Momena Shoma, saying she was a "unimportant" criminal, not a martyr in "green wings" on the way to Islamic heaven.
Sending her to prison for 42 years, the judge roundly told off the 150cm tall jihadi, telling Shoma she had "achieved nothing" and scoffing at her grandiose claims and the Islamic State caliphate.
Justice Lesley Ann Taylor slammed Shoma and her Islamic State beliefs as the IS fanatic refused to stand in the dock, handcuffed, shackled and staring unflinchingly ahead through the slit of her black niqab.
Delivering a huge 42-year maximum sentence to the 26-year-old Bangladeshi, Justice Taylor told off the prisoner in a lengthy and pointed sentencing, which appeared to miss nothing.
She told Shoma that instead of being a grand jihadi she was an "insignificant criminal" with "transitory notoriety".
Shoma became the first person in Australia convicted of violent jihad for trying to murder her homestay host in his suburban Melbourne house with a kitchen knife she'd brought in from Bangladesh.
She stabbed Roger Singaravelu in the neck, intending to murder him, as he took an afternoon nap with his five-year-old daughter in their rumpus room on February 9 last year.
"At the scene, you told police that you had come to Australia to carry out the attack because you were ordered to do so by the caliph of Islamic State," Judge Taylor said in her sentencing remarks today in the Victorian Supreme Court.
"Your deeds and words … have sent ripples of horror through out the Australian community.
"But they do not make you a martyr. They do not make you a beacon of Islam.
"They do not give you green wings to ascend to Jannah (Islamic heaven).
"They make you an undistinguished criminal.
"You should not mistake your passing notoriety for importance, nor equate it with achievement."
The diminutive Shoma, who comes from an upper-middle-class family in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka, had committed a "chilling" and "cunning" attempt to murder Roger Singaravelu, Justice Taylor said.
She said Shoma's assault was "was an attack on a fundamental value of Australian society".
But Justice Taylor scoffed at the notion expressed by Shoma in a Whatsapp message before the attack saying she was "gathering courage".
Instead, Justice Taylor said, Shoma had just been "swilling … propaganda designed to close the mind to reason and excite base blood lust".
The judge said she appreciated incarceration would be difficult for Shoma, given "the need to be handcuffed at all times" outside her cell unit "and the restriction of you wearing a niqab".
But she said a long sentence was appropriate and Mr Singaravelu and his family had "been ripped apart" and were "in short, devastated".
Shoma will spend at least 31 years and six months behind bars in the Victorian prison system.
Judge Taylor said Shoma had hoped her victim would die, had no remorse, had refused to denounce her jihadi ideology and had poor prospects of rehabilitation.
On February 9 last year, Shoma stabbed Roger Singaravelu in the neck at his Mill Park home in northeastern Melbourne after he had become an emergency fill-in host to the international language student under the Australian Homestay Network.
Shoma had only been in Australia eight days after arriving on a student visa to study at La Trobe University when she attempted to fatally stab Mr Singaravelu to "trigger the West".
Wearing a black niqab and kneeling beside him as he slept in a chair, Shoma had yelled "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) and stabbed him so forcefully the knife embedded in and fractured his spine.
The court heard Shoma had brought a kitchen knife all the way from Bangladesh and had practised with it on a mattress days before the attack.
Justice Taylor said Shoma had been radicalised in 2013, and had tried to study at Turkey's Atilim University in 2015, with the real aim of crossing into Syria.
Denied a place in Turkey, Shoma successfully applied to La Trobe University and went straight from the airport to a host family at Bundoora in northern Melbourne.
"You had absolutely no intention of studying at La Trobe," Justice Taylor said.
"Your sole purpose for entering this country was to carry out a terrorist act.
"The stabbing and killing of a person rendered vulnerable by sleep, in pursuit of violent jihad and to intimidate the Australian government or people.
"You brought with you a large kitchen knife for that purpose.
"On 3 February 2018, you purchased a pair of night vision goggled and batteries from two different stores.
"On 6 February 2018, you rehearsed the physical act of stabbing. While the members of your host family was absent, you entered their bedroom and stabbed their mattress between six and nine times in the areas where they would have been lying.
"Unsurprisingly … your host family … asked for you to be removed due to fears for their safety."
Relocated to Mr Singaravelu's home as a "temporary … emergency situation", Shoma was not discouraged.
She had Googled "are people in deep sleep when they snore" and "how can you tell if someone is in a deep sleep".
In an email to her sister back in Bangladesh, Shoma wrote "I can get over my fear … I love u for the sake of Allah … delete these emails".
Shoma then downloaded videos about IS executions over two days leading to the afternoon of February 9, 2018, when Mr Singaravelu was asleep with his daughter on a mattress in the rumpus room.
Shoma's attack left the blade of her knife lodged in her victim's neck, while he tried to push her off and remove it, causing the tip to snap off.
He ran outside to the neighbours, one of whom approached Shoma, who "unrepentant and defiant" admitted the crime and did the same to police saying it was 'in response to the bombing of Muslims by westerners".
"You said you had come to Australia to attack someone and expressed the hope Mr Singaravelu would die," Justice Taylor said.
"No doubt you thought that his death would add to your achievement.
"But you have achieved nothing except, as I have said, to make yourself an insignificant criminal of transitory notoriety, notwithstanding your adherence to a now defunct caliphate and its unmasked falsehoods."
Justice Taylor said Mr Singaravelu suffered ongoing spinal problems, recalled the blood spatter on the walls and his daughter has flashbacks and nightmares.
His wife felt "her family has been ripped apart" and they were "in short, devastated".
Justice Taylor said Shoma had "without hesitation … ruthlessly exploited the generosity and trust" of Mr Singaravelu and his wife "who opened their house to you".
"Your violation of the sanctity of that home was an attack on a fundamental value of Australian society," she said.
"You chose a method of attack, that consistent with your physical capability optimised your chance of murdering someone.
"It shows intelligence and cunning."
Shoma pleaded guilty last September to engaging in a terrorist act for the advancing of a political, religious or ideological cause, namely violent jihad, and today became the first person in Australia to be sentenced for that crime.
After her arrest in Melbourne, Shoma's younger sister allegedly stabbed a policeman who went to the family home in Dhaka to further investigate Shoma.
Asma-ul Husna, 22, who is also known as Shumona, reportedly yelled "Allahu Akbar" as she stabbed an officer who had come to the family apartment.
After her arrest, she allegedly told police, "You are disbelievers. The rule of Islam should be established in the country. If necessary, we should do jihad."
Just months before arriving in Australia, Momena Shoma had a forbidden romance with a now missing Islamic State extremist and member of the IS-inspired radical group, New Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh.
Known as neo-JMB, it is reportedly made up of Bangladeshi youth from well-to-do families.
Neo-JMB was behind the July 2016 terrorist attack on Dhaka's Holey Artisan cafe in Dhaka, in which 29 people were killed in Bangladesh's worst terrorist attack, dubbed "7/16".
Shoma and her sister are the daughters of Dhaka chartered accountant, Mohammad Moniruzzaman, who is an executive at Janata Insurance company and a former bank vice-president.
Momena Shoma will be eligible for parole in 2049.