Terror charge against Australian teen dropped
Australian authorities Tuesday dropped a terror charge against a teenager over an alleged Islamic State-inspired plot to attack Anzac Day commemorations honoring the war dead, citing insufficient evidence.
Harun Causevic, 18, was arrested along with fellow teen Sevdet Ramden Besim in raids in Melbourne in April and both were charged with conspiring to commit a terrorist act.
But the terrorism-related charge against Causevic was struck out on Tuesday and he was released on bail, a Magistrates Court of Victoria spokeswoman told AFP.
Three weapons charges against him were adjourned until November, she added. Besim remains in custody on terror offenses.
Five men were initially arrested in the counter-terrorism raids in Melbourne but only two were charged with conspiring to commit a terrorist act on Anzac Day, when Australian and New Zealand Army Corps troops who died in combat are remembered.
A 14-year-old in Britain was also charged with inciting the purported attack and encouraging them to carry out a beheading.
Australian Federal Police on Tuesday said they had been advised “there was insufficient evidence to continue the prosecution for this offense.”
But they defended the raids, saying they had taken an “operational resolution at an early stage” to ensure there was no threat to the public.
“Police would rather the risk of a prosecution failing than the risk of members of the community being hurt or killed through no overt action,” they said in a statement.
Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said police were in a difficult position of trying to keep the public safe without overstepping their powers.
“Perhaps things are clearer, perhaps things are easier when you’ve got the benefit of hindsight,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Australia raised its threat level to “high” last September and has since carried out a series of counter-terrorism raids, with alarm fueled by the departure of more than 100 of its nationals to Iraq and Syria to fight with jihadists.