Five teenagers have been arrested in Australia for plotting to carry out a terror attack in Melbourne.
Two are suspected of planning to carry out the attack, one, aged 18, has been charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist attack. The second man is likely to be charged in the near future.
Another man has been held on weapons charges, while two others aged 18 and 19, are being held in custody in connection with the attack.
Although officers said that the plot may have involved ‘edged-weapons,’ Australian Federal Police acting deputy commissioner Neil Gaughan said: “At this stage, we have no information that it was a planned beheading. But there was reference to an attack on police.”
Gaughan added that the attack was likely inspired by the Islamic State, saying: “Some evidence that we have collected at a couple of the scenes, and some other information we have, leads us to believe that this particular matter was ISIS-inspired.”
Up to 200 counter-terrorism officers carried out the operation to arrest the suspects, which took place on Saturday.
The attack was planned to coincide with Anzac Day, a day of remembrance on April 25 for the Australian servicemen and women who died fighting in WWI. Next week marks the one hundred year anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign. The attack was planned against a memorial event in Melbourne.
Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, urged citizens to attend Anzac Day events regardless of the plot. He said “The best thing we can do to counter terrorism… as individuals is to lead normal lives.”
Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said that those arrested had links to Numan Haider, who was shot and killed by a police officer in September 2014 while stabbing another police officer in a terrorist attack.
He said that the suspects were monitored for several months and the decision to arrest them was made when police received information that an attack was imminent.
Phelan discussed the difficulties facing law enforcement in tackling the new forms of terrorism.
He said: “This is a new paradigm for police. These types of attacks that are planned are very rudimentary and simple. . . . All you need these days is a knife, a flag and a camera, and one can commit a terrorist act.”
There have recently been a slew of terrorist incidents in Australia.
Two men were arrested in February this year for planning to carry out an Islamic State inspired beheading in Sydney, Australia.
In December 2014 Islamic State supporter Man Haron Monis took 17 people hostage in a Lindt Chocolat Café in Martin Place, located in downtown Sydney. They were held for over 16 hours by the gunmen before police stormed the building
In the same month a young high-profile male model gave up his promising career in Australia to join the Islamic State, along with his friend a business student for La Trobe University.
In September 2014, close to 800 federal and state police officers were dispatched to more than 12 locations across Sydney, in the largest terror raid in Australia’s history. More raids were coordinated in Brisbane and Logan as well. Police detained 15 suspects.
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