Australia foils terrorist plot to attack army base

Discussion in 'Indo Pacific & East Asia' started by RPK, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    4,882
    Likes Received:
    130
    Location:
    13° 4'60.00"N 80°16'60.00"E
    Australia Detains 4 For Plotting Suicide Attack

    Australia Detains 4 For Plotting Suicide Attack

    MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian police arrested four men linked to a hardline Somali group on Tuesday, charging them with planning a commando-style suicide attack on a military base and underlining that the country remains a target for Islamists.

    The four were arrested during dawn raids on 19 properties across the southern city of Melbourne after a seven-month investigation involving Australia's national security agency ASIO. A fifth man, in custody on other matters, was also being questioned.

    The four men, aged between 22 and 26, were Australian citizens from Somali and Lebanese backgrounds, police said.

    Police said they had links to al Shabaab, a militant Islamist group that controls much of lawless Somalia. Analysts say the group, which has links to al Qaeda, has been recruiting from among Somalia's vast diaspora.

    The first to appear in court, named as Nayef el Sayed, was formally charged with conspiring to attack an army base.

    Officials said Australia's terrorism warning alert level would remain at medium, where it has been since 2003, but Prime Minister Kevin Rudd warned against complacency.

    "The sobering element to emerge from today's development is the reminder to all Australians that the threat of terrorism is alive and well," he said in Cairns.

    While Australia has never suffered a peacetime attack on home soil, more than 90 Australians have been killed in bomb attacks in Indonesia since 2002.

    Acting Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus told reporters that those arrested had been planning a suicide attack, using automatic weapons to storm a suburban Sydney military base and kill those inside.

    "The men's intention was to actually go into the army barracks and to kill as many soldiers as they could until they themselves were killed," he said.

    "We believe the men were linked with al Shabaab in Somalia," he said, adding that police have not ruled out further arrests.

    Al Shabaab has vowed to rule the majority Muslim nation by a hardline interpretation of Islamic law, and has dug up Sufi graves, forced women to wear veils, closed down movie halls and cut off limbs for theft.

    Analysts say al Shabaab, which means "the youth" and figures on the United States' terrorism list, has recently had success recruiting from among the Somali diaspora and other Muslims abroad.

    AUSTRALIA "REMAINS A GOLD-MEDAL TARGET"

    Australia has gradually tightened anti-terrorism laws since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. It has been an active participant in hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, where over 1,000 Australians are currently serving with foreign forces.

    Security analyst Carl Ungerer said the arrests proved that Australian security agencies remained vigilant against attacks, and that Australia remains a prime target for groups linked to al Qaeda, which is blamed for the September 11 attacks.

    "The arrests this morning clearly show that Australia remains a gold-medal target for international terrorism," Ungerer, from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told Reuters.

    "What is suggests is we remain high on the list of those who are either al Qaeda or affiliated with al Qaeda, or have bought into its rhetoric of this Salafi jihadism."

    Rudd said Tuesday's arrests were not linked to deadly bombings at two luxury hotels in Jakarta last month that killed three Australians.

    Police said they had worked with international agencies over the raids, but refused to say who tipped them off.

    Police had cordoned off a house in Melbourne's northern suburbs and set up a tent, and were seen carrying out boxes of evidence in the quiet suburban street.
     
  2.  
  3. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Messages:
    20,305
    Likes Received:
    8,268
    Location:
    011
    Australia foils terrorist plot to attack army base

    MELBOURNE, Australia — Australian police said Tuesday they thwarted a terrorist plot in which extremists with ties to an al-Qaida-linked Somali Islamist group planned to invade a military base and open fire with automatic weapons until they were shot dead themselves.

    Some 400 officers from state and national security services took part in 19 raids on properties in Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, before dawn Tuesday, arresting four men and detaining several others for questioning, police said.

    Australian Federal Police Acting Commissioner Tony Negus said the raids followed a seven-month surveillance operation of a group of people with alleged ties to al-Shabaab, an Islamist organization fighting to overthrow Somalia's Western-backed transitional government.

    "Police will allege that the men were planning to carry out a suicide terrorist attack on a defense establishment within Australia involving an armed assault with automatic weapons," Negus told reporters.

    "Details of the planning indicated the alleged offenders were prepared to inflict a sustained attack on military personnel until they themselves were killed," he said.

    Holsworthy Barracks on the outskirts of Sydney was one of the group's potential targets, and surveillance had been carried out at other bases, he said, declining to identify them.

    Negus said some of the suspects had traveled to Somalia "to participate in hostilities" there.

    All four arrested are Australian citizens of Somali or Lebanese descent aged between 22 and 26, police said.

    One of the suspects, Nayes El Sayad, 25, was formally charged in Melbourne Magistrate's Court with conspiring with four others to plan a terrorist attack, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Magistrate Peter Reardon ordered him held in custody and to appear again on Oct. 26.

    Police were granted approval to extend the detention without charge of the three other suspects arrested Tuesday so they could be further questioned. A fifth man, already in custody on an unrelated assault charge, was also being questioned about the plot.

    Federal police agent David Kinton told the court that police evidence included intercepted phone calls and text messages between the suspects. The Age newspaper reported on its Web site that one of the messages referred to the Holsworthy base, saying: "I stalked around. It is easy to enter."

    Negus said authorities decided to move against the group after carefully weighing up how advanced their plan was.

    He said the group was actively seeking a fatwa, or Islamic religious ruling, approving their plans for the Australian attack. Negus did not say whose approval was being sought.

    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the plot underscored that Australia is still under threat from extremist groups enraged that the country sent troops to join the U.S.-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    "There is an enduring threat from terrorism at home here in Australia as well as overseas," Rudd told reporters in the northern city of Cairns. "This is a sober reminder that the threat of terrorism to Australia continues."

    Rudd said authorities had advised him it was not necessary to raise Australia's terrorist alert level as a result of the plot.

    Police sealed off several houses in Melbourne after the raids and were conducting intensive searches. Forensic officers in protective suits collected samples and searched at least one car parked in a driveway, while uniformed officers interviewed neighbors.

    Terrorist violence is extremely rare in Australia — the unsolved 1978 bombing near the Hilton Hotel that killed two is the best-known incident — and no attacks have been carried out in the country since the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. raised security threat levels worldwide.

    But dozens of Australians have died in terrorist attacks overseas, mostly in Indonesia including the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings.

    The Somali-linked plot is the second major coordinated attack plan exposed in Australia in recent years. Seven men were imprisoned in the past year for involvement in a nascent plot to target thousands of spectators in an attack on major sporting events in Australia.

    If it had been carried out, the Somali-linked plot could have been "the most serious terrorist attack on Australian soil," Negus said.

    Al-Shabaab, which conducts frequent attacks in Somalia, is seeking to overthrow the Horn of Africa nation's government and establish an Islamic state. The group has claimed responsibility for several high-profile bombings and shootings in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, targeting Ethiopian troops and Somali government officials. It has also killed journalists and international aid workers.

    The U.S. State Department says al-Shabaab has provided a safe haven to al-Qaida "elements" wanted for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The two groups have long been suspected of working together, but they have not announced a formal alliance. Al-Qaida has operations in North Africa, Yemen and Iraq.

    The Associated Press: Australia foils terrorist plot to attack army base
     
  4. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    Messages:
    12,076
    Likes Received:
    327
    Western concern grows over Somali war fallout | Reuters

    Western concern grows over Somali war fallout
    Tue Aug 4, 2009 8:58am EDT

    By William Maclean, Security Correspondent -Analysis

    LONDON (Reuters) - Australia's arrest of four suspected attack plotters said to have links to a Somali group may suggest radicalized veterans of war in the Horn of Africa are willing to return to the diaspora to strike Western targets.

    The four, all Australian citizens with Somali and Lebanese backgrounds, were arrested in dawn raids on 19 properties across Melbourne, after a seven-month investigation involving several forces and Australia's national security agency ASIO.

    The group in question is al Shabaab, which is conducting an international recruitment campaign backed by al Qaeda's propaganda network for fighters to join its push to take power in Mogadishu and impose strict Islamic rule.

    Although al Shabaab plays up its link to the transnational network of Osama bin laden, attacking Western targets overseas is not its primary goal, which is overwhelmingly domestic.

    But one consequence of its use of ethnic Somalis from the millions-strong diaspora community may be that veterans head home with the funds or skills to attack Western targets of their own volition, Western counter-terrorism officials say.

    "The chances are extremely remote that this was Shabaab saying 'Go off and strike Australia'," said Will Hartley, Editor of Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center, a security consultancy and information provider.

    "NOT MERELY RESISTANCE FIGHTERS"

    "Far more likely is that Australia was targeted by Australians who had been in Somalia, were radicalized, and were intent on carrying out or expanding the jihad themselves ... not under Shabaab orders," he said.

    The arrests coincide with a surge in Western concern about radicalization of some Western converts to Islam. On July 29 U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder warned of increased "radicalization" of Americans going abroad and then returning home with the "aim of doing harm to the American people."

    He was speaking two days after seven people were arrested in North Carolina for allegedly plotting attacks overseas. Holder also expressed concerns about a group of young Somali men leaving the Minneapolis area to join al Shabaab.

    Acting Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus said those arrested on Tuesday had planned to storm a suburban Sydney army base with automatic weapons and kill those inside.

    Prosecutors told the Melbourne Magistrate's Court they had evidence some of the men had taken part in training in Somalia and at least one had engaged in frontline fighting in Somalia.

    Western officials worry that today's chaotic Somalia resembles Afghanistan in the 1990s, when militants including bin Laden's associates used the safe haven of ungoverned areas on the Pakistan border to plan attacks on Western targets.

    In a speech posted on militant web forums on July 30, an al Qaeda leader, Abu Yahya al-Libi, appeared to urge Somali supporters of Shabaab to widen their list of targets beyond the nationalist agenda of ending foreign occupation - a reference to African Union peacekeepers in Somalia.

    "You and we are mujahideen in the Cause of Allah, fighters against the enemies of Allah. We are not merely resistance fighters who push out enemies who came to our lands," he said, according to a translation by the Site Intelligence Group. He added: "We fight to drive out the foreign occupation from our lands ... and to eliminate every regime or law that disagrees with our faith, and so that Islam alone rules our lands and so that all mankind are servants of Allah alone."

    Rashid Abdi, a Somalia expert at the International Crisis Group, said al Qaeda's internationalist rhetoric in support of al Shabaab on militant chatrooms and Web sites had helped widen the group's appeal among radical communities around the world.

    And al Shabaab's own propaganda has drawn parallels between itself and the Taliban in Afghanistan and insurgencies in Algeria and Chechnya, in an apparent attempt to attract hardcore militants elsewhere in the world to join its fight.

    AL QAEDA ORBIT

    But domestic Somali politics was also a driver in al Shabaab's "moving into the al Qaeda orbit," Abdi said.

    Al Shabaab, which holds swathes of south and central Somalia, has been enraged by Western and African backing for a new government formed this year and feels it would already have defeated the administration if it had not been for this support.

    The United States has offered military support to Somalia's government, including more than 40 tons of weapons and ammunition, to help it fight insurgents, a senior U.S. official has said. It has also offered training for security forces.

    Shabaab's radicalization "is a function of what is going on militarily and politically on the ground," Abdi said.

    "They feel besieged, they feel that their victory has been snatched from them largely because of Western interference... You can see why the west is now more of a target for al Shabaab."

    (Editing by Janet McBride)
     
  5. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    Messages:
    12,076
    Likes Received:
    327
  6. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    4,882
    Likes Received:
    130
    Location:
    13° 4'60.00"N 80°16'60.00"E
    More terror suspects charged in Australia


    Melbourne: Australia on Wednesday charged three more men with planning a suicide attack on a Sydney army base and said it may outlaw Somalia's al-Qaida-inspired Shebab insurgents linked to the alleged plot.


    A total of four men have now been charged with preparing to storm the sprawling Holsworthy barracks with automatic weapons, in what police said would have been the country's worst ever extremist assault.

    "We expect a fifth man who was already in custody on other matters will appear in court later today and be charged with the same offence," a police spokeswoman said.

    A senior police officer said the alleged attack, foiled by dawn raids involving hundreds of police across Melbourne on Tuesday, may have been in the final stages.

    "It was probably getting to the point where it would have happened within weeks," New South Wales police's counter-terrorism chief Peter Dein told public broadcaster ABC.

    Nayef El Sayed, 25, the first man charged, made a defiant court appearance on Tuesday when he remained seated throughout, saying he wouldn't stand "for any man except God," according to his lawyer.

    The four arrested on Tuesday -- El Sayed, Saney Edow Aweys, Wissam Mahmoud Fattal and Yacqub Khayre -- are Australian men of Somali or Lebanese descent. Police said they had sought a "fatwa," or religious backing, for their attack.

    Khayre is also accused of travelling to Somalia to train and fight with the Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab, which is battling pro-government forces and controls large parts of the anarchic African country.

    Prosecutors revealed details of the alleged plot, including text messages and CCTV footage of Fattal allegedly casing the Holsworthy base on March 28.

    "I strolled around ... it is easy to enter," Fattal reportedly texted later.

    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Australia was considering listing Shebab as a terrorist organisation but delayed acting for fear of compromising the police operation, which has been running since January.

    "This has been the subject of some internal deliberation within the government... for a period of time," Rudd told ABC radio.

    Australia, which has about 1,550 troops in Afghanistan and was also involved in Iraq, has never been hit by Islamic extremists on its own soil, although four people died in bombings in Sydney and Melbourne in 1978 and 1986.

    It has also lost lives in attacks abroad, including 92 on Indonesia's resort island of Bali in 2002 and 2005 and three in last month's Jakarta hotel blasts.

    Last week Islamic convert Shane Kent admitted plotting to kill thousands of people in an attack on a major sports event in Melbourne.

    Eight members of Kent's extremist cell have already been jailed over plans to bomb the 2005 Australian Football League Grand Final in Australia's biggest anti-terrorism trial.

    However lawyer Remy Ven de Wiel, defending ringleader Abdul Nacer Benbrika, had argued the self-styled sheikh "couldn't organise a booze-up in a brewery."

    The Holsworthy base, on Sydney's western outskirts, is home to thousands of troops including an anti-extremism unit.

    Bureau Report
     
  7. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    4,882
    Likes Received:
    130
    Location:
    13° 4'60.00"N 80°16'60.00"E
    1 in alleged Australian terror plot denies charge

    MELBOURNE, Australia — One of four men charged in an alleged plot to shoot up an Australian military base angrily denied he was a terrorist in court Wednesday and accused the country's troops of killing innocent people overseas.

    Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, whom police say is a member of an extremist cell with ties to an al-Qaida-linked group in Somalia, refused to stand before the judge in Melbourne Magistrates Court, where he was charged with conspiring to plan a terrorist attack. He did not enter a plea and faces life in prison if convicted.

    As Fattal was being led from the courtroom, he accused Australia of killing innocent people in Afghanistan and Iraq and said, "You call us terrorists — I've never killed anyone in my life."

    Fattal's attorney, Grace Morgan, said her client didn't mean to disrespect the judge by not standing, but he would stand only for his god.

    On Tuesday, police arrested four men — all Australian citizens aged between 22 and 26 with Somali and Lebanese origins — in raids on 19 houses in the southern city of Melbourne, the culmination of a seven-month intelligence operation.

    Fattal, Nayef El Sayed and two other men were all charged with conspiring to plan a terrorist attack.

    Police allege the cell's plan was to send a team of gunmen with automatic rifles on a suicide attack against Holsworthy Barracks, an army base on the outskirts of Australia's largest city, Sydney, that houses commandos trained in counterterrorism, a Black Hawk helicopter squadron and thousands of regular troops. The men planned to keep on shooting until they themselves were killed, acting Australian Federal Police chief Tony Negus told reporters.

    "Potentially this would have been, if it had been able to be carried out, the most serious terrorist attack on Australian soil," Negus said.

    Negus said some of the suspects had traveled to Somalia and were believed to have fought alongside Islamic insurgents there.

    Police said extensive electronic surveillance and phone intercepts of the cell revealed details of the plot.

    "I stalked around. It is easy to enter" the Holsworthy barracks, one of the suspects allegedly said to another in an intercepted text message, The Age newspaper reported, citing police agent David Kinton.

    Police did not allege a possible motive for the attack, or when it was planned for, but said the men were linked to the Somali Islamist organization al-Shabaab and were trying to find a senior cleric who would approve the operation so they could become martyrs.

    Terrorist violence is extremely rare in Australia — the unsolved 1978 bombing near the Hilton Hotel that killed two is the best-known incident — and no attacks have been carried out in the country since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S. raised security threat levels worldwide.

    But dozens of Australians have died in terrorist attacks overseas, mostly in Indonesia, including the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings.

    The purported Somali-linked plot is the second major coordinated attack plan exposed in Australia in recent years. Seven men were imprisoned in the past year for a nascent plot to target thousands of spectators in an attack on a big sporting event in Australia.

    Australia became a staunch U.S. ally in the war on terrorism after Sept. 11 and has deployed forces to fight insurgents in Afghanistan.

    Al-Shabaab has been fighting to overthrow Somalia's Western-backed transitional government. It has claimed responsibility for several high-profile bombings and shootings in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, targeting Ethiopian troops and Somali government officials.

    Washington has designated al-Shabaab as a terrorist group and says it has provided safe havens to al-Qaida "elements" wanted for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 236 people. The two groups have long been suspected of working together, but they have not announced a formal alliance.

    Magistrate Peter Reardon ordered Fattal and Sayed to remain in custody and reappear in court on Oct. 26.
     
  8. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    4,882
    Likes Received:
    130
    Location:
    13° 4'60.00"N 80°16'60.00"E
    Terrorism suspect in court outburst


    man charged over an alleged terrorist plot to attack a Sydney army base has made an outburst in court.

    Wissam Fattal, 33, was one of four men to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court today.

    Fattal was charged last night with preparing to carry out a terrorist act, and was already in custody on other matters.

    He is one of five men, mostly from Melbourne's northern suburbs, held in custody overnight and questioned about an alleged plot to launch a suicide mission on the Holsworthy Army barracks.

    Yacqub Khayre, 22, is also charged with preparing for a terrorist act, while Saney Aweys, 26, and Abdirahman Ahmed, 25, are charged with aiding and abetting a man to engage in hostile acts overseas, namely the civil war in Somalia.

    A fifth man charged, Nayef El Sayed, 25, appeared in court yesterday.

    As he was led from court today, Fattal told Magistrate Peter Reardon, "You call me a terrorist, I've never killed a person in my life."

    He said troops in Iraq and Afghanistan were killing innocent people, and that Israel had taken Palestinian land by force.

    All of the men have been remanded in custody to face court in October.


    Leak investigated

    The AFP and Victoria Police are working to determine if officers from either agency leaked details of yesterday's terrorism raids to The Australian newspaper.

    The Australian maintains the paper was not available until the raids started, about 4am AEST.

    But Victoria's Police Chief Commissioner, Simon Overland, says police officers bought copies of the paper at 1:30am yesterday.

    He says the leak threatened the safety of officers and the public.

    "We've had truck drivers involved and it's been distributed at various locations around the city," he said.

    "I don't know who's involved in printing the paper. I don't know who's involved in distributing the paper. I don't know who had access to that information from about 1:30am yesterday morning."
     
  9. Calanen

    Calanen Regular Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2009
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    12
    Scarily there are no armed sentries at Australian army bases.

    Only fat civilian security guards, who are unarmed.

    Some more 'misunderstanders' of the true peaceful message of the peaceful Religion of Peace. How could it be that so many people are just such misunderstanders? Very puzzling.
     

Share This Page