Melbourne, Jul 2: Three men accused of having links to the Islamic State terror group were arrested by Australian police on Tuesday for allegedly plotting to carry out terrorist attacks on several targets including police stations, embassies, courts and churches in Sydney.
The three men have been arrested following counter terrorism raids in six properties of Sydney's west. The Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney said the men, aged 20, 23 and 30, would be charged with a range of "serious offences", from being a member of a terrorist organisation, Islamic State, acts in preparation of a terrorist attack in Australia, and preparations to enter a foreign country with the intent of hostile activities.
Police said one of the accused, Isaak el Matari, had been monitored since returning from Lebanon last year.
Police believe the plans for local terror attacks were in "early stage preparations". Australia: 3 Arrested for Plotting ‘IS-Inspired’ Terror Attack in Melbourne.
"We will say that they had a number of targets, including police stations, defence establishments, embassies and councils, courts and churches," McCartney said. New South Wales Police assistant commissioner Mick Willing said the arrests represented the "16th disruption" since terror threat levels were raised in 2014.
"There are people out there who still want to commit acts of terror in this country, sadly, but we're doing everything we can to prevent those acts of terrorism taking place and public safety is always our first priority," he said.