Momena Shoma, a Bangladeshi woman serving a 42 year jail term in Australia on terror charges, has been charged with another terrorism charge after she stabbed a fellow inmate in the prison. The woman, dubbed ‘Tiny Terrorist’ for her height of 150 cm, is lodged in a women’s prison in Melbourne.
According to reports, the incident happened on October 30 at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre in Ravenhall, after an altercation between the two women inside the prison, both aged 27. The victim was taken to a hospital after receiving an injury on her hand.
Momena Shoma was charged by counter-terrorism police and was presented before the Melbourne Magistrates Court via video link to face fresh terror charges. The court remanded her in custody till the next hearing scheduled on March 25. Due to Coronavirus pandemic, court proceedings in Australia are delayed, which means it could take more than a year before the case reaches trial.
Momena was convicted in terror charges in June 2019 after she had stabbed her landlord in February 2018. According to the verdict convicting her, she had gone to Australia with the sole purpose of carrying out a terror attack, and she had attacked her landlord just after eight days of arriving in Australia.
She had shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ while stabbing her homestay host Roger Singaravelu while he was sleeping with his 5-year-old daughter. She had pushed a kitchen knife into his neck, but he had survived the attack. Both the victim and his daughter had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after the attack.
During the questioning, ‘Tiny Terrorist’ Momena Shoma had said to police that she went to Australia with the aim of carrying terror attacks in the name of ISIS. She had also informed the police that she had practised the attack by stabbing a mattress while staying with a different family earlier, and chose Roger as target as he was vulnerable.
Shoma had pleaded guilty during the trial, and said that she engaged in ISIS-inspired terror attack to advance the cause of violent jihad. She had travelled to Australia on a scholarship to study at La Trobe University, but the court ruled that her real purpose of the visit was to carry out terror attacks.
Initially, she had stayed with a family in Bundoora after arriving in Australia, but she moved to Roger Singaravelu’s house after the first host family expressed concern after finding out that she was stabbing their mattress. However, Singaravelu said that he was not informed about the incident. His family used to host students from all over the world through homestay (paying guest) companies, but after the incident, they stopped doing that.
According to the court order convicting her, Momena Shoma became radicalised in 2013 during the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Even on the day of attack, she had downloaded a video from ISIS media centre.
Even though her victim survived, the court had convicted her of terror charges, and sentenced her to 42 years, with a minimum term of 32 years. One reason for the unusually long sentence was to set an example to deter others, as she was first to be convicted of terror charges in Australia. The court had said that Shoma’s intentions were disrupting the community and instilling fear. ‘The offender, or the terrorist, is trying to weaken the fabric of society itself. So even though the immediate victim is one person, it’s aimed at society and not treated like a typical personal offence,’ the judge had said.