The men, who are reported to have associations with the Somali-based terrorist
movement al-Shabaab ? which has links to al-Qa?ida ? are said to have
been in the advanced stages of planning an attack on the Holsworthy barracks
on the outskirts of Sydney.
More than 400 officers from Victoria Police, New South Wales Police, the
Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
? the country?s equivalent of MI5 ? swooped on 19
addresses across Melbourne at 4.30am local time, arresting the four men aged
between 22 and 26.
Australian Federal Police Acting Commissioner Tony Negus said last night:
?This operation has disrupted an alleged attack that could have
claimed many lives. If this attack had been carried out it would have been
the most serious terrorist attack on Australian soil.?
He confirmed that the raids involved a suspected terrorist cell of Australian
nationals of Somali and Lebanese backgrounds, and that the men arrested are
alleged to have been involved in insurgent activities in Somalia.
Police believe that the men intended to launch an attack with automatic weapons,
killing as many people as they could before they themselves died, and that
they had returned to Somalia to receive training.
Members of the group had been observed carrying out surveillance at the base
and other suspicious activity around defence bases in Victoria Victoria Police
Commissioner Simon Overland expressed disappointment that details of the
planned raids appeared in The Australian newspaper some three hours before
they took place.
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