Fam­ily foils plot to bomb mar­ket

NewsMail - - NATION -

VIC­TO­RIA Po­lice say there is no spe­cific threat to Melbourne, af­ter rev­e­la­tions a ter­ror­ist plot to blow up Melbourne’s Queen Vic­to­ria Mar­ket was foiled by mem­bers of a Bri­tish fam­ily who pre­tended to be a will­ing re­cruit.

A man, who claimed to be part of an overseas ter­ror­ist net­work, sent en­crypted texts and voice files with in­struc­tions on how to set off a bomb at the mar­ket to the “re­cruit” over five months.

But the re­cruit was ac­tu­ally a Bri­tish-based fam­ily of “am­a­teur ji­hadi hun­ters” and the cor­re­spon­dence was for­warded to the Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice and Vic­to­ria Po­lice, News Corp re­ported yes­ter­day.

As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Ross Guen­ther, who heads the counter-ter­ror­ism unit, said po­lice were made aware of the com­mu­ni­ca­tions early this year, but con­cluded there was no spe­cific threat.

“We take any re­ports of threats to in­fra­struc­ture and peo­ple in Melbourne very se­ri­ously,” Asst Com­mis­sioner Guen­ther told Melbourne ra­dio 3AW.

“We’re more than sat­is­fied I have to say and I want to be re­ally clear about that, there was no clear plot against any­where in the city of Melbourne.”

The plot ap­par­ently in­volved mak­ing a car bomb and driv­ing it at a crowded cor­ner of the mar­ket.

Mr Guen­ther said the mar­ket was one of sev­eral Melbourne icons men­tioned in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions, with oth­ers in­clud­ing the court precinct and Fed­er­a­tion Square.

“We’re very sat­is­fied ... this plot was not vi­able,” he said.

The con­ver­sa­tions, which in this case were be­tween a per­son of in­ter­est in the Mid­dle East and some­one in the UK, were not un­usual, he said.

“These con­ver­sa­tions go on across ji­hadi net­works on a very, very reg­u­lar ba­sis,” he said.

“We’re very good at mon­i­tor­ing such com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­ter­vene when we need to.”

Mr Guen­ther said the force would boost its pres­ence this week­end at the mar­ket, Fed­er­a­tion Square and the AFL, to re­as­sure the com­mu­nity.

He said the ter­ror risk posed re­mained con­stant and had not changed in the past two to three years.

“I’m very con­fi­dent there’s no spe­cific threat,” he said.

“That’s why we ac­tively mon­i­tor about 200 per­sons of in­ter­est in this state and we look at the com­mu­ni­ca­tions they con­duct be­tween them­selves and off­shore en­ti­ties, and we do that ob­vi­ously to of­fer the best pro­tec­tion. If you look back to 2015 to now, you see we’ve been very suc­cess­ful in disrupting sim­i­lar plots.”

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