Severe bushfires which ripped through parts of Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria last year could have been deliberately started by terrorists.

During the devastating firestorms in north east Victoria in 2009, a bike rider with a fuel tin and wearing black clothes was seen leaving the scene of a bushfire which killed 150 people, destroyed millions of dollars in property and burnt many hundreds of livestock.

Evidence presented in the Melbourne Magistrates Court this week supported the supposition that recent bushfires may have been the work of terrorists.

Adrian Karabegovic, 24, is facing 12 charges of collecting and possessing material connected with terrorist acts, including copies of al-Qaida magazines stored on two laptops and a USB stick found his pocket.

Federal Police gathered the evidence from covert telephone recordings which revealed Karabegovic tried to buy a gun before he was arrested.

He also discussed making a bomb that would ignite a bushfire.

The depth of hatred towards Australians was never more evident when Karabegovic and two friends hung a banner over a Melbourne freeway saying. “Get your troops out of Muslim lands you filthy kafir”, and another banner over a building saying, “Get your troops out of Muslim lands you dirty convict pigs”.

Commonwealth prosecutor Daniel Gurvich told the court Karabegovic was recorded saying that he wanted to make and execute a plan, and his intention was much bigger than the banners.

An Arabic interpreter who translated the telephone messages told the court Karabegovic had engaged in “jihadist chanting” and jihad was defined as a holy war not a peaceful struggle.

He was also recorded as saying it was “disgusting” an Islamic school would raise an Australian flag instead of burning it. from the Australian