A 40-year-old man has been arrested by counter-terrorism officials and charged with making online threats “relating to New Year’s Eve” celebrations in Sydney, Australia, police announced on Friday
The man, named as Damien O’Neil, was seized at Sydney airport upon disembarking a flight from London on Thursday night. He appeared in court on Friday and was refused bail, the Telegraph has reported.
Police revealed in a statement that O’Neil had been charged with offenses relating to suicide or encouragement of suicide, rather than terrorism laws. However, New South Wales state acting deputy commissioner Frank Mennilli told reporters in Sydney: “He did post on social media a number of threats of some possible activity that he could be undertaking.”
Mennilli declined to give any details on what those activities might be, but added that O’Neil had “no links to any cultural groups,” and had been acting alone.
The police have also declined to give any details on what activities were being planned, nor would they say what nationality the man is, but local reports have suggested that O’Neil is a resident of Sydney.
The arrest came following a tip-off from a member of the public, leading to searches of a home and a storage facility in the city in which documents and hard drives were seized. The charges levied against O’Neil include possession of “documents containing threats… concerning online blogs”.
“Investigations into this matter so far indicate this was an isolated incident,” said Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn. “As a consequence, we are confident that there are no current or specific threats to New Years Eve and, while we ask people to remain vigilant, people should enjoy the celebration.”
The arrest comes less than a week after five men were arrested in Canberra, Australia’s second largest city, in connection to a Christmas Day terror plot. Police said the men had been inspired by Islamic State, and were planning to attack Melbourne’s Flinders Street train station, neighbouring Federation Square, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.