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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Australian police arrest four in thwarted military base suicide attack plot

Australian police arrest four in thwarted military base suicide attack plot

August 3, 2009

Four arrests in terror raids

Aug. 4 2009

JOINT counter terrorism raids, the result of a seven-month surveillance operation, has led to four arrests, Australian Federal Police acting Chief Commissioner Tony Negus said today.

Terrorists were planning a suicide mission involving semi-automatic weapons on an Australian miliary base, he said.

The four people arrested, all Australian citizens, are being interviewed and several others are assisting with inquiries.

Police are currently interviewing a 26-year-old Carlton man, a 25-year-old Preston man, a 25-year-old man from Glenroy and a 22-year-old man from Meadow Heights..

The raids involved the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Victoria Police, NSW Police, the NSW Crime Commission and Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

Despite the operation, Mr Negus said national security levels remained at medium.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland said search warrants issued across Melbourne and at Colac in the state's south-west may take 24 hours to complete.

Mr Overland stressed the overwhelming number of Islamic people in Australia and Melbourne were valued members of the community, not terrorists.

He said he was disappointed by leaks that lead to reporting of the raids in The Australian newspaper.

Copies of the newspaper were publicly available at 1.30am (AEST) in Melbourne, well ahead of the raids, he said.

Mr Overland said police acted after it "got to a point where we decided it was appropriate to act".
Mr Negus said there could be further arrests, other than four people in custody.

He confirmed the Holsworthy Base in Sydney was an alleged target, as well as "suspicious activity around other bases".

Mr Negus said the allegations related specifically to an attack with firearms, not bombs.

"We believe these men were affiliated with a group called al-Shabaab in Somalia," he said.

On the raids, Mr Negus said: "We were satisfied the timing was right - obviously the primary concern is public safety."

He stressed the police information at this stage was only a series of allegations that needed to be tested in court.

Mr Negus said, however, if the alleged plot had been carried out, it would have been the most serious terrorist act ever on Australian soil.

About 400 police were used to execute 19 search warrants about 4.30am (AEST) on Tuesday.
Homes in the northern Melbourne suburbs of Glenroy, Meadow Heights, Roxburgh Park,

Broadmeadows, Westmeadows, Preston and Epping were raided by police, as well as at Carlton in inner Melbourne and Colac in south-western Victoria. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25879758-5006785,00.html


Australians face up to home-grown Islamist threat

Analysis: Anne Barrowclough in Sydney
From Times Online (London) August 4, 2009
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article6738382.ece #yiv65485403 div#related-article-links p a, #yiv65485403 div#related-article-links p a:visited { color:#06c;}

Australians are struggling today to take in the news that a major terrorist attack was being planned in their country

As one man appeared in a Melbourne court charged with plotting a suicide attack on army bases and more charges were expected, a people more used to attacks by sharks than jihadists are having to face the fact that radical Islam is alive and growing on home soil.

Today's raids are not the first time a terror plot has been uncovered by Australian police. In February, Abdul Nacer Benbrika, a fanatical cleric who wanted to wage jihad by launching "terrible acts of violence", was sentenced to 12 years in prison after becoming the first person in Australia to be convicted of leading a terrorist organisation.

But it is the first time a plot of such proportions has been uncovered. If the four young Australian men of Lebanese and Somali origin had been able to carry out their threat, it would have been the worst attack on Australian soil.

Analysts say the arrests today should provide a wake-up call to a country that has grown complacent about the possible threat from home-grown radicals.

There may be only 300,000 Muslims living in Australia, but there is a small and growing minority of Islamic extremists whose message of jihad has spread among disaffected youth.

Just as young Asian men in the UK have proven vulnerable to extremist messages from the mosque, radical imams such as Benbrika have succeeded in drawing into their web young Lebanese and Somali men, some of them refugees, who feel alienated from the wider Australian community.

Prisons, universities and the internet have also been useful recruiting grounds.

Last year the federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, warned that a terrorist threat was just as likely to emanate from disgruntled and alienated Australian youth as from an overseas organisation.

The most recent report by the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation also outlined the threat from "a small but potentially dangerous minority of Australians who hold extremist views and are prepared to act in support of their beliefs".

The police and security forces have been slow to develop a strategy to counter the growing problem of radicalisation.

A speech by Mr McClelland two weeks ago underlining the need for the Government to focus on the risk from home-grown extremists was the first by a minister on the subject since the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001.

Anthony Bergin, director of research at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, criticised the Government's complacency.

"This plot underlines the need for a comprehensive counter-radicalisation strategy," he told The Times. "We have had groups of people who are drawn to the extremist message, but we have had no strategy in place to counter it.

"It is difficult to know how much radicalisation has grown because we simply don't know what is going on in Muslim neighbourhoods in those at-risk groups," he said. "If these men had been successful in their attack, it would have led to substantial loss of life.

"This plot will provide a wake-up call that we can't be complacent about these issues."

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