Australia: 3 Muslim terrorists arrested planning a Christmas massacre in Melbourne
Three Muslim terrorists inspired by ISIS were charged on Tuesday with planning a mass-casualty terror attack in Melbourne, less than two weeks after a Somali Muslim terrorist murdered a man in a stabbing rampage.
The trio, all Australian nationals of Turkish descent, was arrested by counter-terrorism police in overnight raids as they escalated preparations to attack crowded areas of Melbourne.
All had had their passports canceled this year because of security concerns.
The terrorists communicated with encrypted messages, which made it difficult for police to determine when and where the terror attack was to take place.
The three, two brothers aged 31 and 26 and 21-year-old, were later charged with planning a terrorist action, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, officials said.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said the terrorists were “certainly inspired by ISIS”, but had no known links to a specific organization.
They had been under investigation since March but had become “more energized” since the ISIS-inspired stabbing attack in Melbourne on November 9, he said.
The Muslim terrorists had sought to purchase semi-automatic .22 caliber rifles and police were concerned they could target upcoming Christmas season events that will see huge crowds gathering in the city.
Semi-automatic rifles are banned from public ownership under Australia’s tough gun laws.
Following the raids, a woman in a burqa furiously confronted people outside the home, calling them “cockroaches” and blocking entry with her vehicle.
The father of two of the Muslim terrorists fronted the media and said the terrorists were “good men”.
“They don’t even know how to use a weapon,” he said.
Earlier this month, a knife-wielding Somali Muslim terrorist was shot and neutralized by police after blowing up his car on Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD, stabbing three people and murdering one while southing “allahu akbar”.
Australian Police said 90 Muslim terrorists had been charged in 40 counterterrorism investigations since Australia’s terrorism threat level was elevated in September 2014.
Four Muslim terrorists also have been convicted of planning a terror attack in downtown Melbourne around Christmas in 2016.