Two more men in Australia face terrorism charges

Sydney police with one of two men arrested during a counter-terrorism operation yesterday. A key Australian naval base is said to have been one of their targets.
Sydney police with one of two men arrested during a counter-terrorism operation yesterday. A key Australian naval base is said to have been one of their targets.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

SYDNEY • Two men were arrested yesterday during a counter-terrorism operation in Sydney, with a key Australian naval base among the locations they were allegedly targeting, police said.

The arrests come just weeks after five people were held over a plot aimed at a government building.

Following the latest raids, Abdullah Salihy, 24, was charged with making a document likely to facilitate a terrorist attack, while Mohammad Almaouie, 20, was accused of conspiracy to "do an act in preparation to commit a terrorist act".

Both were refused bail. Their arrests are part of Appleby, a rolling operation investigating people suspected of being involved in domestic acts of terrorism, Australians fighting in Syria and Iraq, and the funding of terrorist organisations.

Eleven others have been charged with terror-related offences since Appleby was set up last year.

New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said there was no specific threat, but the naval base at Sydney Harbour, close to the Opera House, was among locations mentioned in their planning for a terrorist act.

Australia has also been involved in tracking Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in Indonesia, and Indonesian National Police chief Badrodin Haiti yesterday said they had captured an alleged terrorist in Bekasi, West Java. The alleged terrorist, identified only by the initials A M, was captured by the National Police's counter-terrorism detachment, Densus 88, the Jakarta Post reported.

A M is said to have an established relationship with ISIS-linked terrorists nabbed in Sukoharjo and Tasikmalaya on Dec 19 and 20. "These arrests relate to the ISIS group in Syria," said General Badrodin.

Australia had warned Indonesia of the possibility that ISIS would try to form a caliphate in Indonesia.

Gen Badrodin had earlier said the police had arrested nine suspected terrorists from various areas including Cilacap on Dec 19 and Dec 20.

Meanwhile, police in Britain yesterday said they had arrested a 31-year-old man in connection with suspected "extremist Islamist terrorism".

"The man was detained by officers at a business address in south London" on Tuesday, London's Metropolitan Police said. "The arrest is being linked to extremist Islamist terrorism," the Met said, adding that police had also searched a residential address in south London.

The man is suspected "of being involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism", a Met statement added.

Earlier, on Tuesday, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said an Islamist plot was foiled last week in the Orleans region, south- west of Paris, as the government prepared constitutional changes to enshrine emergency police powers.

"A planned attack targeting representatives of state forces in the Orleans region was foiled last week by the DGSI (France's internal intelligence agency)," Mr Cazeneuve said.

Two French citizens aged 20 and 24 were arrested on Dec 19, he added. They were in contact with a French militant in Syria and "the investigation ought to establish if he ordered the attacks that one of the two arrested men has admitted they were planning to carry out against soldiers, police and representatives of the state", he said.

In a separate development, a French deliveryman who killed his boss in June and pinned his severed head to a fence at a factory has committed suicide in his cell.

Yassin Salhi, 35, hanged himself from the bars of his cell using electrical cable on Tuesday night, according to the authorities at Fleury-Merogis prison, in the southern suburbs of Paris.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2015, with the headline 'Two more men in Australia face terrorism charges'. Print Edition | Subscribe