Aussie police arrest 2 men on terror charges

2014-09-10 14:25
Australian federal police officers arresting two suspect after raiding an Islamic centre in Brisbane. (Australian federal police, AFP)

Australian federal police officers arresting two suspect after raiding an Islamic centre in Brisbane. (Australian federal police, AFP)

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Canberra - Australian police arrested two men on Wednesday for allegedly preparing to fight in Syria, recruiting jihadists and raising money for an al-Qaeda offshoot group, as a national spy chief warned that Australia may elevate its terrorism threat to its second-highest level within days.

Australian federal police assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan said 180 police took part in the raids on nine properties in the neighbouring east coast cities of Brisbane and Logan.

The raids came hours after Australian security intelligence organization director-general David Irvine warned that the terrorist threat level could be lifted from "medium" to "high" this week because of the growing danger posed by Islamic State group supporters.

The two men, who have not been identified, are aged 21 and 31 and will appear in a court on Thursday charged with making preparations for incursions into Syria with intentions of engaging in hostile activity, Gaughan said.

A police spokesperson could not immediately explain whether the allegations were that they were preparing themselves or others to fight.

The 21-year-old is also charged with recruiting people to engage in hostile activities in Syria. The 31-year-old has also been charged with providing funds to Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front.

The potential prison sentences they face if convicted were not immediately clear.

"There is no information or intelligence available to police or security agencies at this time to indicate that that these males were involved in terrorism attack planning in Australia", Gaughan told reporters, adding that the arrests and raids were the culmination of a yearlong investigation.

Both suspects were linked to the iQraa Islamic Center in Logan, which was among the properties raided, Gaughan said.

The centre is a not-for-profit book and clothing store, as well as a cafe, and has been linked in the media to jihadists.

Police seized a "significant amount of electronic data", a firearm and some crossbows in the raids, Gaughan said.

Irvine told the National Press Club last month that an estimated 60 Australian citizens were fighting in Iraq and Syria for Jabhat al-Nursa and Islamic State, another al-Qaeda offshoot. Fifteen other Australian fighters have been killed, including two young suicide bombers.

Irvine said last month that another 100 Australians were actively supporting extremist groups from within Australia, recruiting fighters and grooming suicide bomber candidates as well as providing funds and equipment.

Brisbane, the capital of Queensland State, will host President Barack Obama and other leaders of the world's 20 largest economies at the G-20 annual summit in November.

Queensland Assistant Police Commissioner Gayle Hogan said there was no threat to the G-20 meeting.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  barack obama  |  syria  |  australia  |  syria conflict

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