Police have revealed that one of the men arrested in the Sydney terror raids had allegedly planned to hit multiple locations across the city.
Police have arrested three men following a number of anti-terror raids in Sydney this morning.
The combined national police operation, which involved the raiding of a number of properties across Sydney, has led to the foiling of an alleged terror plot.
The NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) conducted raids in Sydney on Tuesday overseen by the AFP.
Police were targeting a group of people they allege support the Islamic State terrorist group.
Isaak el Matari, 20, and two other men aged 23 and 30 were arrested and are expected to be charged later today.
Isaak el Matari has been named as one of the men arrested in the raids. Picture: Ishaq Ul Matari/FacebookSource:Facebook
Police executed six search warrants across suburbs in western Sydney this morning including Greenacre, Green Valley, Canada Bay, Toongabbie, Chester Hill and Ingleburn.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney revealed el Matari was in the “early stages” of planning an attack and had allegedly identified multiple targets across Sydney.
“We will say that they had a number of targets, including police stations, defence establishments, embassies and councils, courts and churches,” Assistant Commissioner McCartney said.
“[There were] discussions around locations, discussions around importing firearms and explosives to carry out those attacks.”
El Matari is expected to be charged with one count of acting in preparation for a terrorist act and one count of engaging in preparations for incursions into foreign countries for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities.
A combined National Police Operation has foiled an alleged terror plot in Sydney, with 3 arrested this morning. Picture: John GraingerSource:News Corp Australia
These offences carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Assistant Commissioner McCartney said he had been monitored for 12 months since returning to Australia from Lebanon and had made a “number of preparations” to travel to Afghanistan and fight for Islamic State.
He was known to Lebanese authorities.
El Matari and a 23-year-old from Toongabbie are expected to be charged with being a member of a terrorist organisation, namely Islamic State.
It is alleged both men identified as members of IS to other like-minded people online and the Toongabbie man was prominent in the global online extremist community.
“Today this highlights two issues: There are still those within the community who wish us harm and the community of Australia harm,” Assistant Commissioner McCartney said.
“I want to say (however) they don’t represent the Islamic faith. Their actions are criminal and they represent hatred and terror.”
Police at unit in Greenacre after they raided it in the early hours of this looking for evidence in terror related activities. Picture: John GraingerSource:News Corp Australia
NSW Police Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing, said the internet allows individuals to influence others with their extremist ideologies.
“The online environment provides fast and easy access to information and, unfortunately, those benefits are also being exploited by extremists, who use digital technologies to exist ‘virtually’ if their physical existence is under threat,” Assistant Commissioner Willing said.
An associate of the two men, a 30-year-old Chester Hill man, is expected to be charged with obtaining a financial benefit by deception, namely fraudulently claiming Commonwealth unemployment benefits.
All three men are expected to appear before Parramatta Local Court today or tomorrow.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton weighed in on the arrests and referred to a Temporary Exclusion Order bill being introduced into parliament on Thursday.
“What the government proposes with the temporary exclusion order is the ability for a person to be excluded, prevented from turning back from Syria, for example, for two years,” Mr Dutton said.
“It allows us more time to manage individuals. When some people come back, it is very difficult to gather the evidence that would be admissible in a court of law in Australia to convict that person beyond reasonable doubt.
“This is a significant threat in the Australian Government wants to keep people safe and that’s why we think this bill should be supported on a bipartisan basis.”
The JCTT has teams in each state and territory, comprised of AFP, state and territory police. Their operations are focused on investigating and disrupting terrorist operations.