Islamic State attack in Australia foiled, say counter-terror police as they arrest three men
Three men in Australia have been arrested over an Islamic State-inspired plot to attack a variety of Sydney targets including police and defence buildings, courts, churches and diplomatic missions, police said.
A 20-year-old suspect had been monitored by police for a year since returning to Sydney from Lebanon, Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Ian McCartney said.
The suspect is expected to be charged with preparing for a terrorist act and preparing to enter Afghanistan for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities on behalf of Islamic State (IS), Mr McCartney said, adding that he was to go to Afghanistan to take part in a separate plot.
He could be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty.
"There were a number of plans both internationally in terms of him travelling overseas, but also a domestic plan which was evolving at the same time," Mr McCartney said.
A 23-year-old man is expected to be charged with being a member of a terrorist organisation, IS.
He could be imprisoned for 10 years.
A 30-year-old man who is an associate of the other two was expected to be charged with obtaining financial benefit by deception through fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits.
He too faces 10 years in prison.
The men are expected to appear in a Sydney court by Wednesday.
Mr McCartney said the planning was in its early stages and the men had yet to obtain guns or explosives.
The plot was the 16th major terrorist attack to be thwarted by police in Australia since the threat level was raised in September 2014, Mr McCartney said.