Melbourne (AFP) – Three men were arrested early Tuesday for allegedly plotting terror attacks in Melbourne less than two weeks after a terror-related stabbing rampage left two dead in Australia’s second largest city, police said.
The trio, all Australian nationals of Turkish descent, were nabbed in overnight raids as they escalated preparations to attack crowded areas of Melbourne, according to police.
The men were “certainly inspired by ISIS”, the so-called Islamic State group, but had no known links to a specific organisation, Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said.
The three, who were not named, had been under investigation since March but had become “more energised” since the IS-inspired stabbing attack in Melbourne on November 9, he said.
In that attack, a Somali-born Australian, Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, stabbed and killed one man and wounded two others in a central shopping area before being fatally shot by police.
The three men arrested Tuesday were aged 30, 26 and 21, and will be charged in a Melbourne court later in the day, police said.
They had no previous criminal records, but had all had their passports cancelled earlier this year to prevent them from joining terror groups overseas, police said.
“If we had not acted early in preventing this attack, we’ll allege the consequences would have been chilling, with… a potential significant loss of human life,” said Ian Mccartney, a federal police spokesman.
Mccartney said the trio had attempted to acquire multiple semi-automatic .22 calibre rifles for the attack.
They had not yet chosen a specific target for their attack, he said.