SYDNEY (AFP) – Two men were charged in Australia Wednesday after police thwarted an “imminent” terror attack, seizing an Islamic State flag, a machete and an Arabic-language video detailing the alleged plot during a raid in Sydney.
New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn said the planned attack was “consistent with the messaging coming out of IS”, while New South Wales state Premier Mike Baird described it as “beyond disturbing”.
Asked whether the plot involved a beheading, Burn said police were as yet unsure, but that it had been due to happen Tuesday in Sydney, and would likely have involved a knife.
The men, Omar Al-Kutobi, 24, and Mohammad Kiad, 25, were arrested in a raid on a property in the city’s western suburbs by the Joint Counter Terrorism Taskforce on Tuesday after a tip-off, and charged with making preparations for a terrorist act.
Reportedly devout Muslims, they were refused bail with the case adjourned until Thursday due to security issues.
“A number of items were located including a machete, a hunting knife, a home-made flag representing the proscribed terrorist organisation IS, and also a video which depicted a man talking about carrying out an attack,” Burn said.
“We will allege that both of these men were preparing to do this act yesterday. We built up information, we received further information which indicated an attack was imminent. And we acted.”
In September Australian police shot dead a “known terror suspect” armed with two knives who stabbed two officers in Melbourne, a day after the Islamic State group called for Muslims to indiscriminately kill Australians.
In another unprovoked attack in May 2013, two Britons of Nigerian descent hacked to death 25-year-old soldier Lee Rigby near an army barracks in the southeast of London.
Attorney-General George Brandis told parliament the video seized allegedly showed “one suspect kneeling in front of an ISIL flag, with the knife and machete, making a politically motivated statement, threatening to undertake violent acts with those weapons”.
ISIL is another name for the Islamic State group.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the video was in Arabic and that “regrettably there are people out there, some living in our midst, who would do us harm”.
Baird said a potentially “catastrophic” incident had been avoided.
“It was beyond disturbing, what was planned,” he told reporters. “Certainly, something catastrophic was avoided yesterday and for that we should be very thankful.”
Australia in September raised its terror threat level and carried out extensive raids in Sydney and Brisbane to disrupt an alleged plot by IS supporters to abduct and randomly behead a member of the public.