A SERIES of anti-terrorism raids were sparked by intelligence reports that Islamic State supporters were planning a public execution in Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.
Details of the planned attack have emerged in the wake of the biggest anti-terrorism operation in Australia’s history, involving hundreds of police officers in co-ordinated raids across Sydney and Brisbane this morning.
Mr Abbott was briefed on the police raid on Wednesday night, which included intelligence that public beheadings were planned. “The exhortations, quite direct exhortations, were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country,” he told reporters.
“So this is not just suspicion, this is intent and that’s why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have.”
NSW Police will allege that some of the Sydney men arrested in the operation had communicated with the Islamic State organisation while developing their alleged plan to seize a random member of the public and behead them live on camera. . . .
Some comments on the raids:
1:41pm: Labor leader Bill Shorten is holding a press conference about the terror raids.
“The raids will no doubt come as a shock to many Australians.”
“It does remind us that the threat of terror can actually occur on our shores.”
“The reports of what these people were allegedly preparing are truly shocking.”
“Australians should be reassured by the capabilities of our security agencies. People should be reassured that our [agencies] are able to do their job before bad things happen to people.”
He said four major terrorist attacks planned on Australian soil had been disrupted since 2003 with the participants convicted and jailed. . .
12:44pm: NSW Premier Mike Baird said the alleged plot, to behead a person on the streets of Sydney, was “undoubtedly horrifying”.
“But I want to pay absolute … thanks to the authorities that have done their job,” he said.
“We want to say to the community: be assured, the actions [today] show that every single effort will be made to ensure that we are safe.”
12:42pm: NSW Premier Mike Baird is holding a press conference about the anti-terrorism raids.
He warned those who wanted to harm the community that “we will hunt you down”.
“To those that think they may be operating in dark corners, we are shining the light upon you,” he said.
This puts into perspective what Prime Minister John Key said last night:
New Zealanders face real threats and as Prime Minister of New Zealand I can either choose to walk away from protecting New Zealanders or do my job. I will never walk away from protecting New Zealanders.
If we ever lived in a benign strategic environment we don’t now and that is why security agencies must have the powers they need to protect us.