Thu, Dec 25, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Aussie charged over terror plot

‘TERRORIST CHATTER’:Two men have been arrested following raids last week that uncovered terrorist-linked documents suggesting plans to attack government targets

AFP, SYDNEY

An Australian man was yesterday charged with possessing documents connected to a planned terrorist attack on government targets in Sydney, but police insisted people should not be afraid.

Sulayman Khalid, 20, who also goes by the name Abu Bakr, was arrested following raids last week which uncovered a large number of documents, a rifle and two shotguns.

He was charged with being in “possession of documents designed to facilitate a terrorist attack,” while a 21-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was accused of breaching a control order that prohibited him making telephone calls.

Their arrests come on the back of a series of pre-dawn raids across Sydney and Brisbane in September as concern mounts about the flow of people to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State (IS) group (formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and other jihadists.

After that operation, police said they had foiled a plot to “commit violent acts” in Australia, including a plan to behead a member of the public.

More than 70 Australians are currently fighting for Islamic militants overseas.

At least 20 have died and there are fears that increasing numbers of youths are being radicalized and could mount attacks at home.

“Certainly the documents talked a little bit about potential government targets,” Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner for National Security Michael Phelan said.

He said the targets were in Sydney, but did not go into detail.

“I am confident that we’ve disrupted the activity that they were planning and that is all I’m prepared to say at this particular point,” he said.

Khalid and the second man were both remanded in custody and are to face court again in February. The arrests followed warnings on Tuesday by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott of heightened “terrorist chatter” in the aftermath of a fatal cafe siege in Sydney’s financial hub last week.

Iranian-born gunman Man Haron Monis, who had a history of extremism and violence, took 17 hostages in the city’s financial heartland, unveiling an Islamic flag.

He was killed as armed police stormed the eatery after 16 hours. Two hostages also died — mother-of-three Katrina Dawson, 38, and 34-year-old Lindt cafe manager Tori Johnson — while several were injured.

“A briefing from the security agencies today indicated that there has been a heightened level of terrorist chatter in the aftermath of the Martin Place siege,” Abbott said on Tuesday. “That’s why it’s important that people remain alert and aware as well as reassured that our police and security agencies are doing everything they humanly can to keep us safe.”

Australia has not officially branded the Sydney siege a terrorist attack and Abbott declined to speculate on any potential new threat.

Phelan said police had been monitoring a particular group of 15 to 20 people, with 11 of them charged since the September raids, some for “serious terrorism offenses.”

“It is a group of people here in Sydney that we’ve been actively monitoring for a long period of time now and any action they take, we want to try to get ahead of them,” he said.

Asked if they had a name, he replied: “No. Certainly their ideology is linked to IS overseas.”

Phelan added that they had no direct link with Monis, but “certainly since the tragic events of last week, this group had ongoing conversations and activity.”

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