Federal Police raids this morning have resulted in a 22-year old man, Omarjan Azari, appearing in a Sydney court charged with planning a terrorist act designed to “shock, horrify and terrify”.
Azari is accused of conspiring with Mohammad Baryalei, the man described as a “top terrorist recruiter” in Australia. The arrest is one of about 15 resulting from raids across western Sydney and Brisbane. The raids, involving 800 police and described as the largest in Australian history, took place as a result of information gleaned from an intercepted telephone conversation in recent days.
Media reports say the arrests related to a plot to capture and behead a random member of the public. Reports say the plan involved filming the beheading as a propaganda tool for the Islamic State movement (also known as ISIL or IS) in Iraq. The basis and veracity of these claims is uncertain. The Australian Federal Police have been guarded in their comments on the raids. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: “This is not just suspicion, this is intent.”
Political leaders were quick to respond to the raids during the day.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman held a press conference with Police Commissioner Ian Stewart. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten commented on the raids, as did the ALP’s Immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott returned today from Arnhem Land and was accompanied by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at a farewell to Australian troops at RAAF Base Williamtown. The troops form part of Australia’s commitment to the international coalition against Islamic State.
- Watch AFP Commissioner Colvin and NSW Police (12m)
- Listen to Campbell Newman and Ian Stewart (20m)
- Listen to Shorten’s media conference (7m)
- Listen to Richard Marles (9m)
- Listen to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young (6m)
- Listen to Abbott and Shorten farewell troops at Williamtown (3m)
- Abbott and Shorten farewell troops (4m)
- Watch Channel 7 News report (5m)
- Watch NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione (2m)
- Watch Channel 7 report on the raids (3m)
- What Happens Next – Channel 7 (4m)
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s remarks to deploying ADF personnel, RAAF Base Williamtown.
It is a real honour for me to address the men and women of the armed forces of the Commonwealth of Australia.
As serving members of our armed forces, you are trained, dedicated, professional, committed and courageous. You are the best of us, and I salute you as you prepare to deploy to the Middle East.
You are deploying in preparation for combat operations, but it is an essentially humanitarian mission to disrupt and degrade the operations of ISIL, and in so doing, to protect the people of Iraq, but more than that, in so doing, to protect the people of the wider world, including Australia.
Regrettably, around the world and in this country itself, there are people who would do us harm. There are people who hate who we are and how we live. They hate our freedom, our tolerance, our democracy. You are there to protect us. You are the long, strong arm of Australia.
In this mission you will have the full support of both the Government and the Opposition. In this mission, we will give you all the support you need. That is what you expect of us and we will deliver for you. We will also do all we can to support your loved ones while you are away. I am very conscious of the fact that they also serve who only stand and wait.
So, good luck and Godspeed. What you are doing is right, it’s just and it’s necessary.