Wednesday, August 05, 2009

More Sydney terror plot charges !

Australian police search car in Melbourne suburb
Police carried out raids on 19 locations across Melbourne

Three more men have been charged in Australia with plotting a suicide attack on an army base, police say.

They were charged over the alleged plan to storm Sydney's Holsworthy base - the same offence with which another suspect had been charged earlier.

The four men were arrested in massive police raids in Melbourne on Tuesday.

The suspects are Australian nationals of Somali and Lebanese descent. Officials believe they are linked to the Somali-based al-Shabab group.

The three men were charged with "conspiring to commit an act in preparation or planning a terrorist act," a Victoria police statement said.

The move comes a day after the fourth suspect, 25-year-old Nayaf El Sayed, was charged with the same offence.

He did not enter a plea or apply for bail, and refused to stand for the magistrate in court.

A fifth man is expected to be charged later on Wednesday.

Earlier, a Victoria police statement said that "police believe members of a Melbourne-based group have been undertaking planning to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia and [are] allegedly involved in hostilities in Somalia".

"The men's intention was to actually go into the army barracks and to kill as many soldiers as they could before they themselves were killed," said Tony Negus, acting chief commissioner of the Australian Federal Police.

Armed Al-Shabab fighters patrol Bakara Market in Mogadishu, Somalia, on 29 June 2009

Holsworthy Barracks on the outskirts of Sydney was one of the planned targets, according to police.

The attack would have been the most serious terrorist attack on Australian soil, Mr Negus added.

"Members of the group have been actively seeking a fatwa or religious ruling to justify a terror attack on Australia," he said.

Prosecutors told the court they had evidence some of the men had taken part in training and fighting in Somalia.

They also said there were phone conversations, text messages and surveillance footage, including footage of one of the suspects outside the Holsworthy army base, linking the suspects to an alleged attack.

The court heard the men planned to seek a fatwa to support an attack on the Holsworthy army base.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said: "The sobering element of today's development is the reminder to all Australians that the threat of terrorism is alive and well, and this requires continued vigilance on the part of our security authorities."

The country's security level is unchanged at medium, where it has been since 2003.

The police said the raids followed a seven-month operation involving several state and federal agencies.

Police believe those arrested are linked to the Somali-based al-Shabab group, which seeks to overthrow the weak UN-backed Somali government and is believed to have links to al-Qaeda.


BBC NEWS REPORT.

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