POLICE believe they have thwarted a New Year’s Eve attack in Melbourne’s Federation Square after a dramatic arrest yesterday
A 20-year-old was arrested by at a house in Werribee about 3pm on Monday by Victoria Police, Australian Federal Police and ASIO officers.
He is currently being interviewed in relation to the offences of preparing to commit a terrorist attack and collecting documents to facilitate a terrorist act.
In a press conference this morning, Victoria Police say the man allegedly plotted to obtain a firearm to “shoot and kill as many people as he could” at Melbourne’s Federation Square on New Year’s Eve.
“The allegations are that he was planning to commit a terrorist act and that he attempted to obtain a gun to do so,” Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said in a press conference this morning.
“What we will be alleging is that he was intending to use a firearm to shoot and kill as many people as he could in the Federation Square area on New Year’s Eve.”
“The male is one of our high-risk persons of interest. We have been monitoring him for a very lengthy period of time.
The man is being interviewed in relation to the offences of preparing to commit a terrorist attack and collecting documents to facilitate a terrorist act. It’s alleged the man accessed a guidebook produced by al-Qaeda containing information on how to commit a terrorist act and use firearms, guns and handguns and rifles.
Authorities were keen to stress that no firearm was obtained. But if the attack had been successful the human cost would have been “catastrophic …horrendous”, Mr Patton said.
The man is also believed to be associated with a group of Victorian extremists. “We won’t identify who they are. It is a very small community of extremist,” Mr Patton said.
“There is no ongoing threat posed in respect to New Year’s Eve, Christmas or any other area.” AFP Acting Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney said the charges that were expected to be laid were “serious”.
“One of the charges carries a maximum penalty of life in prison,” he said. Since September 2014, when the national threat terrorism level was raised to “probable”, the AFP has worked with its state and territory partners to thwart a number of plots.
So far, 74 people have been charged as a result of 347 counter-terrorist investigations.
“I would like to reassure the people of Victoria that the teams in Victoria, but also around Australia, are working day and night. They are working 24/7 to keep Australia safe,” Mr McCartney said.
“The operation is ongoing however the main lines of enquiry have been completed and at this time police do not anticipate further arrests,” added a Victoria Police spokesman.
Furthermore, the arrest is not linked to any previous operational activity.
“Victoria Police and the Australian Federal Police would like to reassure the community that the threat has been contained and there is no on-going risk posed by this individual,” a spokesman for the force added.
“Victoria has well tested, cooperative, counter terrorism and emergency management plans in place and constantly monitor and assess our preparedness to respond to a range of emergencies.”...Read more