Man charged over al­leged plan for ter­ror act on New Year's Eve in Mel­bourne

The Guardian Australia - - News - Melissa Davey

A 20-year-old man has been charged in Vic­to­ria af­ter counter-ter­ror­ism raids on Mon­day, with po­lice al­leg­ing he was in­volved in pre­par­ing for plan­ning a ter­ror­ist act in Mel­bourne on New Year’s Eve.

Ali Ali is ac­cused of pre­par­ing to com­mit a ter­ror­ist attack and col­lect­ing doc­u­ments to fa­cil­i­tate a ter­ror­ist attack. Dur­ing an ap­pear­ance at Mel­bourne mag­is­trates court on Tues­day af­ter­noon he did not ap­ply for bail and is to reap­pear for a committal men­tion on 13 March.

The Vic­to­ria po­lice deputy com­mis­sioner Shane Pat­ton said on Tues­day morn­ing the suspect “was in­tend­ing to use a firearm to shoot and kill as many peo­ple as he could in Fed­er­a­tion Square area on New Year’s Eve”.

“The male is one of our high-risk per­sons of in­ter­est. We have been mon­i­tor­ing him for a very lengthy pe­riod of time. He’s an Aus­tralian cit­i­zen and he is of So­ma­lian par­ents.”

In a joint counter-ter­ror­ism op­er­a­tion be­tween state and fed­eral po­lice and in­tel­li­gence agen­cies, searches were con­ducted at two res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties in the south-west­ern sub­urb of Wer­ribee and the north­ern sub­urb of Meadow Heights, as well as a com­mer­cial prop­erty in Footscray, in Mel­bourne’s in­ner west.

The man was ar­rested just be­fore 3pm on Mon­day. The search at his home would be “com­plex”, Pat­ton said. “This male did not ac­cess a firearm. I think it is very im­por­tant that I pro­vide that re­as­sur­ance to the pub­lic,” said Pat­ton. “He has been sub­ject to our ac­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion and at no stage did he ac­cess a firearm … The ar­rest means that this threat has been re­moved.

“We are quite con­fi­dent that there is no risk or no threat to the Vic­to­rian com­mu­nity now that we have re­moved him from so­ci­ety … there is no on­go­ing threat posed in re­spect to New Year’s Eve, Christ­mas or any other area.”

Po­lice do not an­tic­i­pate fur­ther ar­rests.

A man has been ar­rested over al­le­ga­tions he was plan­ning a ter­ror­ist act in Mel­bourne on New Year’s Eve af­ter an op­er­a­tion in Wer­ribee, Meadow Heights and Footscray. Pho­to­graph: John Gollings

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