A PUBLIC execution of a random Australian was designed to shock the community, a Sydney court has heard.
Details of the alleged plot have emerged as the first man charged after this morning’s terror raids has appeared in Sydney Local Court on one charge to act in preparation/planning for terrorist attack.
Lawyers for Omarjan Azari, 22, said he would make no application for bail.
Azari is accused of conspiring with Mohammed Ali Baryalei, the most senior Australian involved in Islamic State.
Following Joint Counter Terrorism Team raids across Sydney, further charges have been laid with a 24-year-old man from Merrylands charged with possession ammunition without license and unauthorised possession of a prohibited weapon.
One man has appeared before the courts charged with conspiracy to commit acts in preparation of a terrorist act and financing terrorism.
Nine of those detained have now been released as investigations continue.
Two women were issued future Court Attendance Notices.
Police stress that this investigation remains active with the principle focus on community safety and preventing any form of terrorist activity on Australian soil.
Commonwealth prosecutor Michael Allnutt alleged the plan to commit the act was designed to “shock, horrify, and terrify” the community.
“I don’t think I’ve seen much worse,” he said.
“It’s been an immediate reaction to a clear, imperative danger. There is still an enormous amount of material for police to assess.”
Mr Azari’s appearance follows a series of raids across Sydney and Brisbane and allegations of a plot to behead an Australian and upload the act to social media.
The case was adjourned until November 13 and Mr Azari will remain in custody.
While the claims remain unconfirmed, it’s understood the plot involved abducting a random Australian, execute them by beheading in a public place, possibly Martin Place in Sydney’s CBD, and film the act and post on social media.
The ABC reported suspects arrested in Brisbane had purchased machetes, balaclavas and military fatigues.
“Police believe this group had started planning to commit violent acts in Australia. Those acts related to random acts against public,” Australian Federal Police Acting Commissioner Andrew Colvin said.
Further reports have emerged terrorists planned to drape the victim in an Islamic State flag.
In court the prosecutor said there was a plan for Mr Azari to commit extremely serious offences, and determination to do so.
Mr Azari’s lawyer said the allegations against Azari were based on “one phone call”.
This afternoon Attorney General George Brandis told 2GB the government first heard about the plot in May — but in recent days there conversations that caused police to act.
“It’s a horrifying thought…There are people among us that means us harm.”
Police have reportedly removed computers from some of the homes they raided. A resident from one of the Western Sydney homes said the search warrant he’d been shown said officers were looking for bombs, ammunition and firearms.
Acting Commissioner Andrew Colvin addresses media. Pic: Bradley Hunter Source: News Corp Australia
Speaking from Arnhem Land, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was briefed on the counter terror raids before officers swooped this morning.
The Prime Minister said there were “quite direct exhortations … coming from an Australian, who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country”.
“This is not just suspicion, this is intent,” he told reporters in Arnhem Land.
Mr Abbott said he would be returning to Sydney later today to be briefed on the raids, following visits to RAAF bases to farewell Australian troops bound for Iraq.
He insisted he would like to return to Arnhem Land — where he has been spending a week — but he couldn’t make a “specific commitment”.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said today’s events reminded Australians “how close to home the threat of terrorism can be”.
“The reports of what these people were allegedly planning are truly horrifying
“But today’s events should also give us a renewed sense of assurance.”
NSW Premier Mike Baird promised authorities would “hunt down” anyone planning such an attack.
He told reporters the public needed to continue with their daily activities but be prepared for possible delays at major events and in public places.
NSW Police have launched a major focus on public places called Operation Hammerhead which would see hundreds of police “out and about”.
In Queensland, police confirmed they had stepped up security throughout the state in response to the raids.
Premier Campbell Newman, together with the Queensland Police Commissioner, said there had been no arrests as a result of todays raids in their state.
Muslim leaders in Western Sydney are planning to meet this afternoon and form a response to the raids.
ASIO and the Australian Federal Police launched a number of raids across homes in Sydney and Brisbane this morning in the nation’s biggest counterterrorism operation in history.
The operation is understood to have been given the green light after months of surveillance of Australians believed to be linked to extremist terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The strikes were reportedly pre-emptive in nature, and were linked to a Brisbane man who was recently arrested on suspected terrorism related charges.
The terror cell targeted in the raids is believed to have been close to an attack, and reports have emerged that the groups may have been planning beheadings or mass shootings on home soil.
Australian Federal Police Acting Commissioner Andrew Colvin confirmed 25 search warrants were executed this morning, 15 people were detained in Sydney.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione arrives at the Sydney Police Centre in Surry Hills. Source: News Corp Australia
Where the raids happened in Sydney. Source: Supplied
Three raids took place in Brisbane. Source: Supplied
NSW Police and Australian Federal Police during a raid in Bass Hill. Large numbers of police have searched a house with the assistance of sniffer dogs and special operations police. Picture: Bill Hearne Source: News Corp Australia
At least one weapon was seized in NSW counterterrorism raids this morning. More than 800 police were involved in NSW, as well as 70 officers in Brisbane.
AFP believes the raids in Queensland are not directly related to NSW raids. “We are looking at links between the two,” said AFP Acting Commissioner Andrew Colvin
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipone said: “What we can indicate is that the violence was to be perpetrated on a member of the public on the streets at a very high level.
“Today’s operation reflects the reality of the threat that we face”.
“Right now is a time for calm, we don’t need to whip this up, we need to let people know that they are safe.
A man involved in the raids was taken to hospital with minor injuries he claims he received from police.
News.com.au has contacted all other state police departments, confirming no anti-terror operations were underway as the co-ordinated operation unfolds in Brisbane and Sydney.
DID YOU WITNESS THE RAIDS? EMAIL ANDREW.KOUBARIDIS@NEWS.COM.AU
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Forensic officers are on the scene at the Guildford raids in Sydney where three people are being held at a Bursill Street home and it appears that police had seized cash.
Authorities believe a terrorist network had been planning a number of attacks in Australia.
Police raid a home at Bursill Street, Guildford. pic John Grainger Source: News Corp Australia
Cash seized at the Guildford address. Source: News Corp Australia
The Daily Telegraph reports at least 600 officers from the Australian Federal Police, ASIO officers and the NSW counter terrorism unit launched the strikes before dawn this morning.
According to a statement, the arrests followed the execution of “a number of search warrants” in Beecroft, Bella Vista and Castle Hill in the city’s northwest, and Guildford, Merrylands, Northmead, Wentworthville, Marsfield, Westmead, Castle Hill, Revesby, Bass Hill and Regents Park in the west.
Australian Federal Police are also executing warrants in Brisbane.
The southern suburbs of Mt Gravatt East, Logan and Underwood are being targeted in the raids.
A spokesman for AFP said police were executing three search warrants in the Brisbane operation. There are unconfirmed reports several arrests have been made.
The operation follows the arrests of two men with terror links in South East Queensland last week.
The operation is still underway.
A witness to this morning’s counterterrorism police raids has described the operation as “surreal” after witnessing the largest anti-terrorism bust in the nation’s history.
Caller Chris told Triple M’s The Grill Team he was only “six doors down” when police swooped on a home in Sydney’s Bass Hill.
“About 4 o’clock I was woken up by a helicopter going over, which I thought was rather weird,” he told hosts Matty Johns, Mark Geyer and Gus Worland.
“Then at 5 o’clock the dog started barking, I had a look out and there would have had to have been 30-40 coppers.
NSW Police and Australian Federal Police at a searched address at Hector Street, Bass Hill. Source: News Corp Australia
“A lot of cars, I went out to be a sticky beak, as you do, and I was told, quite promptly, ‘go, go back inside do not come back out’.
“They’ve blocked off the road, it was pretty surreal.”
He described his feelings towards his neighbours being linked to terrorist organisations as “a bit iffy”.
“Around the area, we’ve got a lot of. you know … I’m not a racist or anything … but you see these people, we walk down the street, you say ‘g’day’, they look down.
“You don’t know how to take it.”
In Brisbane, Holland Park Mosque spokesman Ali Kadri said while he could not speak on behalf of the congregation, he was disappointed about the hysteria surrounding the raids.
He said while he had met the family who had been raided at Mt Gravatt East this morning, they did not attend the Holland Park Mosque.
“My feeling is simple, the government has to do their job but the hysteria the government is creating is something I am curious about and disappointed about,” Mr Kadri said.
“The hysteria is causing affliction within the community, we all want to see a safe and secure Australia and the threat to Australia comes from different things, and one is from people misusing Islam (but) also the hate crimes of the mosque being attacked, that also divides the community.”
Three people are held at the Bursill street address targeted in this morning’s raids. Pic: John Grainger Source: News Corp Australia
Scott Morrison said the morning’s raids demonstrate why the government has taken recent action to beef up counter terror laws.
“I think the scale of what we’re seeing in this ongoing operation … demonstrates the very real threat that’s there,” the Immigration Minister told ABC radio.
“I think [it] again supports why the government has been so strong in its response to this threat, over $630 million in additional investment the Prime Minister announced as you know to deal with this threat at home, but equally we’re dealing with this threat abroad.”
Another man is arrested in Guildford. Source: Supplied
Police arrest a man in Guildford this morning. Source:DailyTelegraph
Other senior government ministers were unable to shed more light on the raids, but praised the work of authorities.
“I note the security agencies, the Police, ASIO are working hard to ensure that we are safe,” Coalition frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull told ABC radio this morning.
“Our security is the consequence of continued vigilance and hard work on the part of the security agencies.
“There is no cause for being complacent about security.
“There are people, regrettably some of them in our midst, that don’t have the nation’s best interest at heart.”
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s G20 Finance Minister’s meeting in Cairns, Joe Hockey said he had confidence in the security measures in place.
“Everyone needs to make sure that with an increased threat level associated with potential terrorist attacks in Australia we have all the necessary precautions taken for both the G20 here in Cairns and also in Brisbane,” the Treasurer told Sunrise.
“But, I am very confident that all bases are covered.
“We have put a lot of effort into this for a long period of time.”
Anyone who has information should call the national security hotline on 1800 123 400, he said, while commending the authorities for their work and cooperation.
RAISING THE THREAT LEVEL
Last week, outgoing director-general of ASIO David Irvine told ABC’s 7.30 the threat of an attack has been building over the last year, and that he has an “elevated level of concern”.
“In Australia, we’ve been very lucky in that we have avoided an attack on Australian soil … but we’ve also had to stop terrorist attacks occurring in Australia.
“We are certainly aware of people wanting to conduct terror attacks in the west and in Australia. We are facing a persistent threat.”
The national security level alert was raised from “medium” to “high” last Friday.
BIGGEST BUST IN AUSTRALIAN HISTORY
It is believed the size of the raid eclipsed that of Operation Pendennis in 2005 when several hundred ASIO, AFP and NSW police arrested 13 men across Melbourne and the Sydney suburb of Bankstown, who had been planning bomb attacks in both capitals.
The raids come a day after a Sydney-based money transfer business owned by the sister and brother-in-law of convicted Sydney terrorist Khaled Sharrouf was shut down amid concerns it was being used to funnel funds to the Middle East to finance terrorism.
The Lakemba remittance provider, Bisotel Rieh Pty Ltd, owned by Damour Sharrouf and her husband Ahmed Alwash, was suspended after they could not account for millions of dollars transferred to Turkey and Lebanon.
Last week, Brisbane man Omar Succarieh, 31, was arrested and charged with terrorism-related offences following a series of raids.
He’s accused of fundraising for Syria-based extremist group Jabhat al-Nusra and helping another man, Agim Kruezi, obtain funds to fight for a terror organisation overseas.
Succarieh, who is due to apply for bail in court today, is believed to be the brother of Ahmed Succarieh, who reportedly became Australia’s first suicide bomber in Syria last year.