Date
23 September 2017
Officers guard a suspect after a raid in New South Wales, part of an unprecedented police sweep across the country against Islamist sympathizers. Photo: Reuters
Officers guard a suspect after a raid in New South Wales, part of an unprecedented police sweep across the country against Islamist sympathizers. Photo: Reuters

Sweeping Australia raids foil Islamist plot of public beheadings

Islamic State sympathizers have been planning “demonstration beheadings” across Australia involving random abductions, authorities said Friday after an unprecedented multi-city police sweep netted 15 suspects linked to the extremist group.

The raids were carried out by more than 800 policemen and security personnel on Thursday, the biggest such operation in the country’s history.

Police said Islamist supporters have been plotting large-scale terror attacks involving random kidnappings and public beheadings of the victims, draping them in the flag of the Islamic State for maximum effect, the Washington Post reported, citing evidence seized from the suspects.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the plot was orchestrated by Islamic State commanders in the Middle East and called for “demonstration beheadings”.

“Quite direct exhortations were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in [Islamic State] to networks in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country,” Abbott said.

The Soufan Group, a terrorism monitor, estimates that roughly 250 Australian nationals have joined the conflict in Syria, the report said.

Australia is home to nearly half a million Muslims.

The presence of Australian jihadists among the forces of the Islamic State caught the world’s attention this summer after ghastly images emerged online, showing Khaleed Sharrouf, an Australian, posing alongside his seven-year-old son with the severed head of a Syrian soldier. 

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CG/RA

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