Australia threat is real, after lone wolf attacks urged on Sydney and Melbourne: PM

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull arrives at Wattay International Airport in Vientiane for the Asean Summits.
Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull arrives at Wattay International Airport in Vientiane for the Asean Summits.PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - The threat of a terror attack in Australia is "real", Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said after the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group urged followers to target Sydney's beachside Bondi and the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Responding to an English-language online magazine that singled out prominent Australian locations at which to kill people, Turnbull said it was a "disturbing reminder" of the security situation.

"We have a threat level of 'probable', so it is a real threat," he said late Tuesday (Sept 6) when speaking to reporters in Vientiane, Laos.

"The capacity of Daesh, of course, is much less than they proclaim it to be but we do have to be very alert to the actions of these lone actors," he said, using another name for ISIS.

The first edition of the magazine Rumiyah released in English online on Monday called for attacks on the streets of Brunswick and Broadmeadows in Melbourne and Bondi in Sydney.

"Kill them at the MCG, the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground), the Opera House, and even in their backyards," it said.

Turnbull said ISIS militants would "resort to terrorist activities outside of the Middle East" as they came under more pressure on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq.

In relation to so-called "lone wolf" attackers, he said some individuals could be radicalised very quickly "and engage in very destructive, lethal conduct".

But he added: "Every time there is a terrorist incident, wherever it is in the world, we learn as much as we can about it and then take those learnings to keep Australians more safe."

Australia's Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the latest threat did not change the fundamentals in Australia, where the terror threat was lifted to high in 2014.

"This is not the first time that ISIL has called for attacks in Australia and I don't think it will be the last," he told the Nine Network on Wednesday.

Officials say they have stopped 10 terror attacks in Australia in the past two years.

Police chief commissioner for the state of Victoria, Graham Ashton, said while it was the first time such threats had been published in English rather than Arabic, the magazine "appears to be propaganda".

Ashton said while police were taking the comments seriously, there was nothing to suggest any specific threat to the places mentioned.

"If anything arises then we'll obviously be acting on it, but at this stage there is nothing of any concern," he told reporters.