Aussie cops foil hol­i­day ter­ror plot

Five men ‘in­spired by Is­lamic State group’ planned se­ries of Christ­mas Day at­tacks

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGEN­CIES in Can­berra

Police in Aus­tralia have de­tained five men sus­pected of plan­ning a se­ries of Christ­mas Day at­tacks us­ing knives, guns and ex­plo­sives in the heart of the coun­try’s sec­ond-largest city, of­fi­cials said on Fri­day.

Ac­cord­ing to Vic­to­ria state police chief com­mis­sioner Gra­ham Ash­ton, the sus­pects “were in­spired by the Is­lamic State group” and planned at­tacks on Mel­bourne’s iconic Flin­ders Street train sta­tion, Fed­er­a­tion Square, a fash­ion­able bar and restau­rant precinct, and St. Paul’s Cathe­dral, an Angli­can church,

Ash­ton said they had been plot­ting the at­tack for three weeks.

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull said it was one of the most sub­stan­tial plots to be dis­rupted over the past sev­eral years in Aus­tralia.

The ar­rests came in the wake of an at­tack in Ber­lin, Ger­many, on Mon­day that left 12 peo­ple dead when a truck smashed into a Christ­mas mar­ket.

A man­hunt is un­der­way for the per­son be­hind that at­tack, which ramped up se­cu­rity mea­sures around the world.

Two of seven peo­ple ini­tially ar­rested in raids on Thurs­day night and Fri­day morn­ing in Mel­bourne — a 26-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman — were re­leased without be­ing charged, police said.

Five men between the ages of 21 and 26 re­mained in cus­tody. Three ap­peared in a Mel­bourne court charged with pre­par­ing or plan­ning a ter­ror­ist at­tack.

They each face a life sen­tence if con­victed.

Hamza Ab­bas, 21, Ahmed Mo­hamed, 24, and Ab­dul­lah Chaarani, 26, did not en­ter pleas or ap­ply for bail. They will ap­pear in court next on April 28.

Police said the other two de­tainees will also be charged with pre­par­ing a ter­ror­ist at­tack.

Four of the sus­pects were born in Aus­tralia and the fifth was Egyp­tian-born with Egyp­tian and Aus­tralian cit­i­zen­ship.

The sus­pects were pre­par­ing to use knives, guns and ex­plo­sives, Ash­ton said.

‘Global chal­lenge’

Police be­lieved the threat had been neu­tral­ized through the raids on five Mel­bourne premises, he said.

“Ter­ror­ism is a global chal­lenge that af­fects us all. But we must not be cowed by the ter­ror­ists,” Turn­bull said.

“We will con­tinue to go about our lives as we al­ways have. What th­ese crim­i­nals seek to do is to kill. But they also seek to frighten us, to cow us into aban­don­ing our Aus­tralian way of life.”

Since Aus­tralia’s ter­ror­ist threat level was el­e­vated in Septem­ber 2014, the govern-

The sus­pect of Mon­day’s ter­ror at­tack at a Christ­mas mar­ket in Ger­many’s cap­i­tal was shot dead in a neigh­bor­hood of Mi­lan on Fri­day, lo­cal me­dia re­ported.

Italy’s In­te­rior Min­is­ter Marco Min­niti has con­firmed the news, say­ing the per­son killed, “without a shadow of a doubt” is Anis Amri, the sus­pect of the lat­est ter­ror at­tack in Ber­lin.

Amri was killed dur­ing an ex­change of fire with police near a train sta­tion in the Sesto San Gio­vanni neigh­bor­hood early Fri­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the anti-ter-

ment said there have been four ex­trem­ist at­tacks and 12 plots foiled by police.

Fed­eral police Com­mis­sioner An­drew Colvin said the plot­ters had moved very quickly from a plan to de­velop a ca­pa­bil­ity to at­tack.

“In terms of what we have seen over the past few years in Aus­tralia, this cer­tainly con­cerns me more than any other event I’ve seen,” Colvin said.

“We be­lieve that we have re­moved the bulk of this par­tic­u­lar cell, this group.”

Ex­tra police are now on pa­trol in Mel­bourne.

Police search a house in Mel­bourne on Fri­day af­ter un­cov­er­ing a plot for Christ­mas Day ter­ror at­tacks in the city.

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