Wed, Jul 03, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Australian police say they foiled Sydney attack plot

Reuters, SYDNEY

Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney speaks during a press conference following counterterrorism raids yesterday in Sydney.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Australian counterterror police said they arrested three men in raids across Sydney yesterday, foiling a plot inspired by the Islamic State group for attacks targeting a range of public buildings and embassies.

Australia, a staunch US ally, has been on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown radicals since 2014 and authorities say they have thwarted 16 major plots since.

Two of the arrested men, aged 20 and 23, are charged with being members of Islamic State, a crime under Australian laws, with the younger man accused of plotting the Sydney attack, which police said was in the early stages of planning.

“We will say that they had a number of targets, including police stations, defense establishments, embassies and councils, courts and churches,” Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney told reporters in Sydney.

“There are still those people within the community who wish to do us harm,” he said.

“I want to say they don’t represent the Islamic faith. Their actions are criminal and they represent hatred and terror,” he added.

Police made the arrests because they had compiled sufficient evidence for charges, McCarthy said, but offered few details.

A third man, aged 30, is charged with welfare fraud.

The police did not name those charged, who are expected to appear in court later yesterday or today.

McCarthy said the man charged with plotting had been tracked by Australian authorities since the middle of last year, when he drew their attention by traveling to Lebanon.

He faces life imprisonment, if convicted. The others face sentences as long as 10 years.

The men knew each other on social media, police said.

In addition to the Sydney plot, the 20-year-old planned to travel to Afghanistan to fight there for Islamic State, and the 23-year-old was prominent among extremists online globally.

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