Australian police raid properties connected to ISIS sailing group

An officer taking pictures of a boat, which Australian police have seized in Cairns, Australia, in this still image taken from video, on May 11, 2016.
An officer taking pictures of a boat, which Australian police have seized in Cairns, Australia, in this still image taken from video, on May 11, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Counter-terrorism police on Tuesday (May 17) carried out raids across Melbourne connected with five men accused of planning to travel to Syria to join Islamic State via a journey that would start with a motor boat trip from Australia to Indonesia.

"The Victorian Joint Counter Terrorism Team are currently executing a number of warrants in the northern and north-western suburbs of Melbourne as a part of Operation Middleham," a Victoria state police spokesman said.

The men, aged between 21 and 31, were charged on Saturday with preparing to enter a foreign country "for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities", an offence that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The five, who were not named, were arrested last week after towing a seven-metre motor boat almost 3,000km from Melbourne to Cairns in northern Queensland state.