Friday, December 23, 2016
Five in custody over alleged Melbourne Christmas terrorism plot
Three of five men accused of plotting a terrorist attack to take place in Melbourne’s CBD on Christmas Day have faced court.
Abdullah Chaarani, 26, Hamza Abbas, 21, and Ahmed Mohamed, 29, were all refused bail in Melbourne magistrates’ court on Friday afternoon and will return to court on 28 April, charged with engaging in acts in preparation for or planning of a terrorist attack. Two other men will appear before the court on Saturday.
A lawyer representing Abbas, Jessie Smith, told the court that he had suffered soft tissue injuries during his arrest on Thursday night, as well as injuries to his face, hip and back, and asked that he be attended to in custody by a nurse.
Police arrested the men following raids on Thursday night at properties in Flemington, Meadow Heights, Dallas, Campbellfield and Gladstone Park.
On Friday morning Victoria’s police commissioner, Graham Ashton, said that the attack police alleged was being planned for Christmas Day was going to involve “an explosive event, the use of explosives, and we gathered evidence to support that”.
Ashton said there would be an increased police presence for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG and over the new year period, but there was no longer any direct threat, saying police had “neutralised” the situation.
He said 400 officers were involved in the operation between Victoria police, Australian federal police and Asio.
The Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations (Fair) on Friday accused the police of using excessive force when making the arrests.
“It’s the same every time, there is an alleged plot and the raids are conducted in such a manner that the families are victimised and traumatised,” Fair’s executive director, Kuranda Seyit, said in a statement to Fairfax.
“The police will refer this to the professional standards review committee and we will never hear anything more about the impact that these raids have on the women and children who live in the homes of these alleged offenders.
The Australian federal police commissioner, Andrew Colvin, said compared with other threatened attacks in the past few years, the alleged plot “concerns me more than any other event that I’ve seen”.
“They had moved very quickly from an intention to a capability, and developed capability, including quite progressed plans, we will allege.”
“This news will be of great concern to all Australians,” the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said. “We are approaching the Christmas season, a time when we come together in peace and love, with our families. We congregate in public places for Christmas, for New Year’s Eve. It is a time of happiness and joy.”
In a statement, the Victoria police Multi-faith Council said members were “united in our shock and condemnation of the alleged planned terrorist acts in the Melbourne CBD”.
Membership of the council includes the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, Faith Communities Council of Victoria, Islamic Council of Victoria, Jewish Communities Council of Victoria and other religious and multicultural groups.
“These alleged acts were not acts of faith, ethnicity or culture,” the statement said. “They were opposed to the principles of all religions. They were alleged acts of criminality that do not reflect the harmonious values we collectively strive to promote.
“We stand together for cohesion and harmony and are confident that Victoria’s multicultural and diverse community will unite in the face of these challenges in a positive and peaceful way.”
The premier, Daniel Andrews, said: “This matter has been contained,” he said. “We of course know and understand that the threat of these sorts of acts more broadly is very real. Victorians should go about their business at this very special time of the year.
“What is going to be alleged was going to occur if not for the professionalism and hard work of our police, were not acts of faith, they were in their planning acts of evil.”
“There has also been evidence around the possibility of an intention to use other weapons. That could include knives and/or a firearm. That will form part of our allegations when the matter is presented to court.”
Four of the five men were Australian-born men in their 20s, the commissioner said. A further suspect facing charges was born in Egypt.
Police believed the men were self-radicalised, “inspired by Isis and Isis propaganda”, Ashton said. - The Guardian
Posted by wikisabah at 5:23:00 PM