An Islamic State terror plot has been stopped after Australian police on Tuesday arrested three men suspected of being involved in planning the attack on Sydney.
Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney told reporters at a press conference that the men, aged 20, 23, and 30 were arrested after several authorities monitored their online activity.
“We will say that they had a number of targets, including police stations, defense establishments, embassies and councils, courts and churches,” McCartney told reporters.
The commissioner said the men will be charged with a number of “serious offenses” ranging from being a member of a terrorist organization, planning a terror attack, and preparations to enter a foreign country with the intent of hostile activities.
“We have sufficient evidence to charge and that’s why we’ve taken this action today,” McCartney said.
Police said the men were in the early stages of the plot and had attempted to import explosives into Australia.
One of the suspects, 20-year-old Isaak el Matari, caught the police’s attention after he returned to Australia from Lebanon last year. Authorities say he had made plans to fight with the Islamic State in Afghanistan.
The arrests came after Australian authorities conducted six other counter-terrorism raids in Canada Bay, Chester Hill, Greenacre, Green Valley, Ingleburn and Toongabbie in Sydney Tuesday morning.
“There are still those within the community who wish us harm and the community of Australia harm,” said McCartney.
“Their actions are criminal and they represent hatred and terror.”