Melbourne terrorist plot: Victorians told ‘not to cower to terrorism’ amid heightened security after police raids
25th Dec 2016
Victorians have been urged not to “cower to terrorism” and continue with their plans over the holiday period amid heightened security in Melbourne after four men were charged over an alleged plot to stage an Islamic State-inspired attack on Christmas Day.
- There will be increased visible police presence in and around Melbourne CBD and at Boxing Day Test
- Police Chief Commissioner says public should have confidence in anti-terrorism security measures
- Four charged over alleged terrorist plot
Three of those people — 26-year-old Abdullah Chaaranim of Dallas, 21-year-old Hamza Abbas of Flemington and 24-year-old Ahmed Mohamad of Meadow Heights — were charged with planning a terrorist attack.
Ibrahim Abbas, 22, from Broadmeadows was also charged with the same offence and appeared in court on Saturday.
The court heard Abbas sustained head injuries and a black eye during his arrest in a raid on his home.
There was a heavy police presence outside court for case.
He has been remanded in custody and will face court again in April.
A 20-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man from Meadow Heights, and 21-year-old man from Gladstone Park, were released without charge on Friday.
Police said they believe the group was planning to use explosives and other weapons at high-profile Melbourne landmarks Federation Square, Flinders Street Station and St Paul’s Cathedral — most likely on Christmas Day.
Emergency authorities joined Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews at Federation Square on Saturday to call on the community to continue with their holiday plans.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said the public should have confidence in anti-terrorism security measures in place over the Christmas break.
Security will be increased in and around Melbourne’s CBD and at the Boxing Day Test.
“That’s [extra security] not because we have specific intelligence that we are concerned about,” he said.
“We just want to make sure that we are playing it safe and keeping the community safe. You’ll see an increased visible police presence.”
Mr Andrews paid tribute to Australian authorities for thwarting the alleged plot.
About 400 officers from Victoria Police, Australian Federal Police, ASIO and other agencies, including officers from Western Australia and New South Wales, took part in Friday’s operation.
“Can I again reiterate on behalf of all Victorians just how proud we are of the work that Victoria Police have done to foil this plot against institutions in the centre of our city, the centre of our culture,” he said.
“I can, again, confirm there are no further intelligence about any further counterterrorism issues. These matters have been contained due to the good work of Victoria Police and their partners.”
‘Sick and tired’ of people using Islam in vain: Islamic Council
The Federation of Islamic Councils condemned the alleged plot, saying it had nothing to do with the teachings of Islam.
“We are literally sick and tired of some young people in our community seeking to terrorise other people and trying to blame that on religion,” its president Keyser Trad said.
“Religion is innocent of all these nefarious plots and what these people are planning is an outright criminal activity that the religion of Islam is the first and the quickest to condemn.”
Carry a message of peace and reconciliation, Archbishop says
Anglican Archbishop Philip Freier encouraged worshippers to attend services at St Paul’s Cathedral this weekend.
“We always have security present and that will be mildly enhanced,” he said.
“We certainly look forward to continuing our worship through Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, unaffected by these things.
“Christians carry out to the world this message of hope and peace and reconciliation and it’s really important Christians have — through their actions — the confidence to hold that message to the forefront.”