Five Arrested for ISIS-Inspired Horror Plot in Melbourne

April 19, 2015  

Australian security forces arrested five people Saturday over an ISIS-inspired plot to attack police and citizens with “edged weapons” at Anzac Day ceremonies.

“There was a knife and there was a sword. There was suggestion of firearms but we have not seized any,” acting Victoria Police Commissioner Tim Cartwright said.

The five young men arrested in Narre Warrren, Hallam, Eumemmerring and Hampton Park, are known associates of Melbourne terrorist Numan Haider who was shot and killed by police in September 2014 after stabbing anti-terrorism officers.

One of the five, 18-year-old Sevdet Besim from Hallam, has been charged with “conspiracy to commit acts done in preparation for, or planning, terrorist acts.” Besim appeared for a 30-second hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court where he was remanded in custody.

Another prime suspect who was arrested is an 18-year-old from Hampton Park, who is still being held. A third suspect – a Lindim Sulejmani, 18, of Narre Warren – was released on Saturday afternoon and is expected to be charged with prohibited weapon offenses.

Two other Narre Warren men, aged 18 and 19, were released without charge.

At least 200 officers from the Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police launched the raids at 3:30 a.m. Saturday, in a joint counter-terrorist swoop dubbed Operation Rising.

Seven properties were targeted at Narre Warren, Hampton Park, Hallam and Eumemmering. Heavily armed officers used battering rams to smash into homes before conducting searches.

‘We have acted swiftly’

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has urged Australians to turn out in record numbers to Anzac Day commemorations, while Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria, promised security will be ramped up at Anzac Day events this Saturday.

The planned attack could have come “any time in the next week,” acting Deputy Commissioner Victoria Police acting Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said. Police would not disclose what Anzac Day celebration had been targeted.

“We have acted swiftly to disrupt an attack intended to bring harm to everyday Victorians going about their business,” acting Deputy Commissioner Patton said.

“At this stage we have no information there was a planned beheading,” AFP acting Deputy Commissoner Neil Gaughan said.

“Some evidence that we’ve collected at a couple of the scenes – and some other information we have – leads us to believe that this particular matter was ISIS-inspired. But it’s early days and we’re not going into further details than that.”

Police declined to comment on whether it was “retaliation” for the shooting death of Haider last year. The men arrested Saturday had reportedly frequented the al-Furqan bookshop and Islamic center in Springvale South, which was also linked to Haider.

Anzac Day was established to mark the anniversary of the start of the Gallipoli campaign in World War 1. This year marks 100 years since that day.

In December, a terrorist took about 40 people hostage at the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in central Sydney. The gunman, Man Haron Monis, was killed when police raided the cafe, as were two hostages – a 34 year-old man and a 38 year-old woman.

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