Date
24 March 2017
Australian Federal Police officers take a suspect into custody during a recent counter-terrorism operation in southwest Sydney. Photo: EPA
Australian Federal Police officers take a suspect into custody during a recent counter-terrorism operation in southwest Sydney. Photo: EPA

Australia charges five over Sydney terror plot

Australian police have charged five people including a teenage boy over a terrorist plot targeting Sydney.

The move comes after Thursday’s counter-terrorism raids linked to an operation last December, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Australia’s Federal Police and its state counterparts arrested a 15-year-old youth and a 20-year-old man.

Three men already in prison on terrorism offenses were charged over involvement in the plan.

“As a result of search warrants executed last December, as well as numerous amounts of electronic and physical surveillance, today has culminated in what we believe sufficient evidence to be able to charge two individuals with conspiracy to prepare for a terrorism attack,” Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan told journalists in Sydney in reference to Thursday’s arrests.

Police last year arrested several men after raids that uncovered documents designed to facilitate a terrorist attack, possibly on police headquarters in Sydney or on a random civilian in the city.

The Thursday raids were on homes in the same areas of southwest Sydney.

In September last year, more than 800 police and intelligence agents carried out raids in Sydney and the northeastern city of Brisbane, detaining 15 people.

The raids, and a 16-hour hostage siege last December at the Lindt Chocolate Café in central Sydney in which two people died along with a lone gunman, have prompted the government to dramatically tighten counterterrorism laws and expand official surveillance powers.

Controversial laws stripping dual nationals of Australian citizenship as a punishment for militant actions — modeled on similar laws in the United Kingdom — were passed by Australia’s parliament last week.

Police said three men already in jail for terrorism-related offenses and aged in their early 20s were charged with one count of conspiracy to conduct an act in preparation for a terrorist attack.

New South Wales state police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said the two arrested on Thursday morning both had ties to a 15-year-old boy, Farhad Jabar, who in October murdered a civilian accountant outside a police station in western Sydney, before being shot dead by responding officers.

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