Wednesday 21 February 2018

Boy (14) arrested over alleged terror plot to attack Anzac Day commemorations

Hayden Smith

A 14-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with an alleged terror plot to attack Anzac Day commemorations in Australia.

The teenager was held in Blackburn, Lancashire, on Saturday, on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation, or instigation of acts of terrorism, Greater Manchester Police said.

It comes after Australian police made several arrests in relation to an alleged plan to stage an attack at events in Melbourne to mark the centenary of the Anzac landings.

The teenager was arrested after police allegedly uncovered communications with a man in Australia.

In a joint statement, Victoria Police and the Australian Federal Police said they "can confirm a link between the arrest of a 14-year-old boy in Blackburn, Lancashire, in the United Kingdom on Saturday with Operation Rising, a Joint Counter Terrorism Team operation."

Read more: Five teenagers arrested in Australian terror plot

It said: "Investigators received information from UK authorities after they allegedly uncovered communications between the teenager and a man in Australia.

"The nature of the communication will form part of the investigation and therefore it would not be appropriate to comment further."

Counter-terrorism officers in Australia arrested two teenagers on Saturday on suspicion of planning an attack at an Anzac Day ceremony in Melbourne later this month. The plot is alleged to have involved targeting police officers.

The annual Anzac Day ceremonies - commemorating Australian and New Zealand Army Corps' First World War battle in Gallipoli on April 25 - take on extra significance this year as the centenary of the conflict in Turkey is marked.

Over the weekend British police disclosed that security operations for Anzac-related events in the UK are being reviewed following the developments in Australia.

After the arrest in Blackburn, Scotland Yard said: "There is no change to the security announcement made on Saturday about asking forces to review plans for Anzac Day related events to ensure they are safe and secure for visitors and officers."

Counter-terrorism officers executed a warrant at an address in Blackburn on April 2 following the examination of a number of electronic devices.

The teenager was arrested on that occasion on suspicion of preparing for an act of terrorism.

He was further arrested on Saturday on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism and remains. He remains in custody.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole, from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit (NWCTU), said: "We have uncovered communication between an individual in the North West and a man in Australia to what we believe is a credible terrorist threat.

"As soon as this information came to light we acted quickly with the relevant authorities here and abroad and this has resulted with officers from the NWCTU arresting a teenager.

"The nature of the communication is currently under full assessment and subject to investigation."

Police stressed there is no indication of any imminent threat in the UK.

Mr Mole said: "We are continuing to work closely with the police in Australia and Lancashire and I want to reassure the public that we have not uncovered an imminent attack in the UK and there is no immediate threat towards the communities of Lancashire, the North West and the UK.

"It is important to remind communities and families to bring to our attention anyone they perceive may be vulnerable or in danger of escalating towards terrorism.

"We have the ability to engage and support individuals where necessary."

The Australian police operation saw a total of five men arrested, including an 18-year-old who has appeared before magistrates charged with conspiracy to commit acts done in preparation for, or planning, terrorist acts".

Two men, aged 18 and 19, have been released pending further inquiries, while another 18-year-old has been released but police expect him to be charged with weapons offences. An 18-year-old remains in custody.

Press Association

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