Australian cops arrest man in counter-terror raids

2014-09-30 11:36

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Melbourne - One man was arrested in counterterrorism raids in the Australian city of Melbourne on Tuesday after police said he provided money to a US citizen fighting alongside extremists in Syria.

The 23-year-old man, whom police have not named, will be charged with intentionally making funds available to a terrorist organisation, Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said.

The arrest comes a week after Melbourne police fatally shot a terror suspect who had stabbed two officers. Gaughan said the man arrested on Tuesday was not connected to that incident.

Police say Tuesday's arrest came after an eight-month investigation that began with a tip from the FBI. The man arrested is accused of giving about $12 000 to a US citizen to fund his travel to Syria, where he is currently fighting, Gaughan said. The two men are not related and know each other primarily through social media, he said.

Gaughan declined to release details about the American in Syria, except to say he'd been fighting there for "a number of months."

The Melbourne man was not involved in planning an attack, and there was no specific threat to the public, Gaughan said. Police believe he was operating alone, and was about to provide additional funds.

Terrorism financing case

About 100 state and federal police officers raided seven properties in Melbourne just after dawn Tuesday and collected a large amount of electronic data, Gaughan said. No weapons were seized.

"This is a terrorism financing case — we didn't assess there being a significant community safety risk, or a significant risk to our officers," Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton said.

Earlier this month, Australia raised its terror warning to the second-highest level, citing the domestic threat posed by supporters of the Islamic State militant group.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament security agencies know of 100 people within Australia who are supporting terrorist groups overseas through recruitment or funding.

 He said AU$630m $550m in new spending on intelligence, law enforcement and border protection agencies over the next four years would include AU$20m for the anti-money laundering agency AUSTRAC to help prevent terrorism funding.

"Anyone who supports terrorists is complicit in the dreadful deeds they do," Abbott said.

Last week, terror suspect Numan Haider, 18, was killed after he stabbed two police officers during a routine meeting outside a Melbourne police station. Both officers are recovering.

Abbott said the knife attack was inspired by the Islamic State group.

Two weeks ago, police detained 16 people in counterterrorism raids in Sydney and charged one with conspiring with an Islamic State leader in Syria to behead a random person. Small-scale raids continued in that city for days afterward in what police described as an ongoing investigation.

Read more on:    us  |  australia

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