Melbourne, Feb.19 : A Melbourne-based terrorist group reportedly discussed plans to assassinate former Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
The Victorian Supreme Court was told on Tuesday that the possibility of killing Howard arose during a religious lesson delivered by the group's leader Abdul Nacer Benbrika to one of his followers, Abdullah Merhi in September 2004.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Benbrika and Merhi are among 12 men on trial for being members of a terrorist organisation and for providing resources to a terrorist organisation.
Merhi is said to have sought Benbrika's advice on what kind of retribution was specified in the Koran.
Merhi had asked: "If John Howard kills innocent families ... Muslims, do we have to kill him?"
Merhi also asks if an attack on the Australian government would be wrong if such an attack was aimed at achieving the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq.
Benbrika again fails to give a direct reply, but tells Merhi that whatever he may say, he is only passing on Allah's teaching.
Merhi had gone to Benbrika to seek guidance on whether he should travel overseas to fight in a holy war, or jihad, the court heard.
Benbrika tells him there is no need and that he should stay in Australia and conduct jihad here.
Benbrika suggests that the group should "do a big thing".
The trial before Justice Bernard Bongiorno is continuing.