Counter-terrorism police in Australia have arrested three western Sydney men believed to be supporters of the Islamic State who allegedly planned to carry out terrorist attacks on several targets including public buildings and embassies.
The men were taken into custody in raids across the major city early on Tuesday.
At a NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team press conference in Sydney, AFP Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney said the men, aged 20, 23 and 30, would be charged with a range of “serious offences”, from being a member of a terrorist organisation, acts in preparation of a terrorist attack in Australia, and preparations to enter a foreign country with the intent of hostile activities.
The 20-year-old has been named as Isaak el Matari who was arrested at his Greenacre home.
“The man indicated a range of potential targets. These include the following: police stations, defense establishments, embassies and consulates, courts and churches,” McCartney said, adding that plans for local terror attacks were in “early stage preparations”.
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said the men knew each other via social media, and confirmed their plans involved importing weapons and explosives.
All three are due to appear in court either later on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The arrests came after six counter terrorism raids were conducted in Canada Bay, Chester Hill, Greenacre, Green Valley, Ingleburn and Toongabbie.
Australia has been on heightened alert for terrorist attacks since 2014, when a hostage standoff occurred at a café in Sydney. According to officials, 16 terror plots have so far been foiled.