A major anti-terror operation involving more than 800 police was carried out in Australia yesterday. Fifteen suspects — mainly supporters of the Islamic State, it seems — were arrested in Sydney and Brisbane. Their terror plans included — surprise, surprise! — the beheading of a random passerby on the streets of Sydney.
The following report from 7News has more details:
Below are excerpts from a Reuters article on the same topic:
(Reuters) — Hundreds of heavily armed police raided homes in Sydney and Brisbane before dawn on Thursday, launching a large-scale Australian “counter-terrorism operation” just days after the country raised its national terror threat level to high for the first time.
Australian police said the raids were focused on a dozen suburbs in west Sydney, while local media said operations were also taking place in the Queensland city of Brisbane.
Last week, Australia raised its terror threat level to ‘high’, citing the likelihood of terrorist attacks by Australian citizens radicalized in Iraq or Syria, despite stressing there was no knowledge of a specific threat.
Australia, which is due to host the Group of 20 Leaders Summit in Brisbane in mid-November, is concerned over the number of its citizens believed to be fighting overseas with Islamist militant groups.
Up to 160 Australians have either been involved in the fighting or actively supporting it, officials said. At least 20 are believed to have returned to Australia and pose a national security risk, the head of the country’s spy agency said when raising the threat level last week.
And from The Daily Mail:
The extremists arrested in Australia’s largest counterterrorism operation were planning to snatch a random member of the public off the street in Sydney and behead them, police told Daily Mail Australia, in an attack bearing the brutal hallmarks of Islamic State fanatics.
Fifteen people were detained in pre-dawn raids on homes in Sydney and Brisbane by NSW and Queensland state police and the Australian Federal Police. Just one man, Omarjan Azari, has been charged so far, with serious terrorism-related offences, and was due to appear in a Sydney court later today, police said.
‘Police believe that this group that we have executed this operation on today had the intention, and had started to carry out planning, to commit violent acts here in Australia,’ AFP Acting Commissioner Andrew Colvin told reporters in Sydney.
Police sources revealed more details to Daily Mail Australia, that the plot involved abducting a member of the public in Sydney and beheading them. ABC reported that the abducted member of the public would be draped in an Islamic State flag and beheaded on camera.
Channel Seven reports that the random beheading would have been carried out in the streets of Martin Place in Sydney’s CBD.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed that he was briefed on the anti-terror operation on Wednesday night.
He said a senior Australian ISIL member has asked supporters in Australia to carry out ‘demonstration killings’.
‘That’s the intelligence we’ve received. That exhortations, quite direct exhortations, were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of supporters in Australia to direct demonstration killings in Australia. This is not just suspicion this is in intent,’ Mr Abbott said.
Mr Abbott said the information he has received shows Australia is at a ‘serious risk’ from a terrorist attack.
‘There are networks of people here in Australia who will do us harm and it’s very important that we are one step ahead of them and I think this morning we were,’ he added.