Australian Police Arrest Man Over Alleged Terror Plot

SYDNEY (Reuters) -
An officer takes pictures of a boat, which Australian police have seized in Cairns, Queensland, Australia in this still image taken from video, May 11, 2016.  Australian police have detained five men suspected of planning to sail a small boat from the far north to Indonesia and the Philippines en route to joining Islamic State in Syria, officials said on Wednesday.   Australian Broadcasting Corporation/Handout via REUTERS TV     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY     ATTENTION EDITORS -   THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.  NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.  AUSTRALIA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN AUSTRALIA
An officer takes pictures of a boat, which Australian police seized in Cairns, Queensland, May 11. Police detained five men suspected of planning to sail a small boat to Indonesia and the Philippines en route to joining Islamic State in Syria. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation/Handout via Reuters)

Australian counter-terrorism police said they arrested a 24-year-old man in Sydney on Thursday on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, the latest in a string of arrests connected with radical Islamist-inspired violence.

“A Bankstown man was arrested today by the Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) Sydney as part of the ongoing Operation Appleby investigation into the alleged planning of a terrorist attack in Australia,” the Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

“It will be alleged in court the man was one of a number of people – who have been previously charged regarding this matter – involved in formulating documents connected with preparations to facilitate, assist or engage a person to undertake a terrorist act.”

Earlier in the month, police carried out raids across Melbourne in connection with five men accused of planning to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State terror group via a journey that would start with a motor boat trip from Australia to Indonesia.

The men, aged between 21 and 31, were charged with preparing to enter a foreign country “for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities,” an offence that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The five, who were not identified, were arrested after towing a 23-foot motor boat almost 1,865 miles from Melbourne to Cairns in the northern state of Queensland.

In an unrelated incident on the same day, police in Sydney arrested an 18-year-old man for allegedly planning to obtain a gun to commit a terrorist act targeting public buildings or landmarks in the city.

Australia, a staunch U.S. ally, has been on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown radicals since 2014 and authorities say they have thwarted a number of plots. There have been several “lone wolf” assaults, including a 2014 cafe siege in Sydney that left two hostages dead.

About 100 people have left Australia for Syria to fight alongside organizations such as Islamic State, Australia’s Immigration Minister said last month.

Also in 2014, police shot dead a Melbourne teenager after he stabbed two counter-terrorism officers.