SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australian police said on Tuesday (March 22) that they had arrested two people, including a 16-year-old girl, on charges that they had been involved in funding the operations of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The arrest in a Sydney suburb of the school girl and a man, aged 20, were part of counter-terrorism operations aimed at thwarting attacks by domestic radicals at home and disrupting the flow of funds to foreign fighters overseas.
“We anticipate that both these people will be charged later today and attend court and the charge that we anticipate they will have is one of financing terrorism,” New South Wales state police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn told reporters.
“We will be alleging that they were involved in obtaining money to send offshore to assist the Islamic State in its activities,” she said.
Australia’s anti-money laundering agency said in November that reports of suspected financing for militant groups had tripled in the past year, with more than A$50 million (S$52 million) that could be used to support Islamist militants being investigated.
Authorities believe dozens of Australian citizens have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside ISIS militants.
Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its battle against Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria, has been on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown radicals since 2014.
Authorities say they have thwarted a number of potential attacks, while there have been several “lone wolf” assaults.
Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said the latest arrests were not connected to any threat of an imminent attack inside the country.
“The charges these two people are expected to face relate to their alleged activities in raising funds and attempting to transfer those funds to an overseas terrorist organisation,” he said in a statement.
In September 2014, police shot dead a Melbourne teenager after he stabbed two counter-terrorism officers. Three months later, two hostages were killed when police stormed a central Sydney cafe to end a 17-hour siege by a lone gunman, who was also killed.
A 15-year-old boy opened fire on an accountant at police headquarters in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta last October and was then killed in a gunfight with police outside the building.