Two men have been arrested by Australian counterterrorism police in a Sydney suburb, on suspicion of preparing an “imminent attack” on the public or government officials.
Australia’s counterterrorism police have arrested two men in a Sydney suburb and thwarted “an imminent attack,” the police said Wednesday.
The men, identified as Omar Al-Kutobi, 24, and Mohammad Kiad, 25, who shared a residence in the western suburb of Fairfield, were charged with planning to carry out an act of terrorism and other offenses. They were expected to appear in court on Thursday.
The police raided the men’s home on Tuesday and found a homemade flag representing the Islamic State militant group, as well as a video recording of one of the men talking about carrying out an attack, Catherine Burn, a deputy police commissioner in the state of New South Wales, said at a news conference on Wednesday. They also found a machete and a hunting knife, Commissioner Burn said.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Wednesday in Parliament that the video recording showed “one suspect kneeling in front of the ISIL flag with the two knives whilst making a statement in Arabic.” Islamic State is often referred to as ISIL or ISIS.
The two men had not been under surveillance, and the raid was carried out after a tip was received, according to the police. The raid was carried out quickly because it was feared that an attack was planned for that day, the police said.
“Sometimes the information might come to us very, very quickly and we do not have the luxury of not being able to act,” Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan of the federal police said.
The police did not release details of the attack said to have been threatened in the video recording, but Commissioner Burn said it was to be “consistent with the messaging” coming from Islamic State. The police said it was unclear where the attack was to have taken place.
After Mr. Abbott announced last year that Australia would join the American-led campaign against Islamic State in the Middle East, the authorities warned that Australians could be targeted by the militant group’s followers. In September, a man described by the police as a “known terror suspect” whose passport had been confiscated was shot dead near Melbourne after attacking two police officers with a knife.
In December, a gunman, Man Haron Monis, held 18 hostages in a cafe in downtown Sydney for 17 hours, telling them he was acting on the Islamic State’s behalf. He killed one hostage, and Mr. Monis and another hostage were killed when the police stormed the cafe.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Tuesday in Parliament that there were about 90 jihadist fighters from Australia in Syria and Iraq. Mr. Abbott said Wednesday that about 20 fighters had returned from Syria to Australia and that his government had canceled 65 passports in the last year to prevent others from joining the fighting there.