Australia

Australia anti-terror police arrest two in Sydney

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan Image copyright AP
Image caption Australian police said they did not believe an attack was imminent

Counter-terrorism police in Sydney have arrested two men, charging one with possession of documents designed to facilitate a terrorist attack.

The other suspect was charged with breaching a control order.

The arrests were related to a series of counter-terrorism raids in September, officials said.

They come after Australia's prime minister said there had been heightened "terror chatter" since a cafe siege in Sydney last week.

That saw gunman Man Haron Monis, a self-styled cleric originally from Iran, take 17 people hostage in a cafe in the city centre. A 16-hour siege followed, during which two hostages and Haron Monis were killed.

On Wednesday, Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said the man arrested on the terrorism charge, 20-year-old Sulayman Khalid, had documents that mentioned potential government targets.

"I am confident that we've disrupted the activity that they were planning," he said.

But he added: "There is nothing that indicates at all that [there were] any specific targets or time frame in relation to this particular activity at all."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Two people and the gunman died in Sydney last week after a 16-hour siege

Mr Khalid, who did not apply for bail, could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. The 21-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was also denied bail.

Judges can issue control orders against persons of interest in criminal cases, imposing restrictions on them. The 21-year-old man had breached an order preventing him from accessing certain forms of telecommunications.

'Terrorist sympathisers'

After raids in Sydney and Brisbane in September, police said they had foiled a plot to "commit violent acts" in Australia, including a plan to behead a member of the public.

Police say 11 people have now been arrested and charged with terrorism-related offences since the start of the campaign, which began soon after Australia's terror threat level was raised to "high" for the first time.

Mr Phelan said the ideology of the group targeted in the raids was linked to that of militant group Islamic State, and that its members were accused of helping people travel overseas to fight with extremists.

After a meeting of the National Security Committee on Tuesday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said there had been "a heightened level of chatter amongst people who we would normally think of as terrorist sympathisers".

"We don't know when and how an attack may come, but we do know there are people with the intent and the capability to carry out further attacks," he said.

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