Aus police conduct counter-terrorism raids across Sydney
Australian police late today searched several properties across Sydney, reportedly as part of a ongoing counter-terrorism investigation but not related to the deadly cafe siege earlier this week, officials said.
New South Wales police said the raids were unconnected to the 16-hour standoff at a Sydney cafe on Monday that left the lone gunman, self-styled Islamic cleric Man Haron Monis, and two hostages dead, but would not provide further details about the operation.
“The (Australian Federal Police) and New South Wales police can confirm that they are conducting search warrants today in Sydney as part of an ongoing operation,” a spokeswoman told AFP.
“As this activity remains ongoing and to ensure the safety and security of the operation and members involved, it is not appropriate to provide further details at this time.”
The spokeswoman could also not confirm local media reports that one of the homes raided had also been searched by police during large-scale counter-terrorism raids across the country in September.
Australia raised its terror threat level in September on growing concern about militants returning from fighting in Iraq and Syria.
On Monday, a 25-year-old man was arrested as part of ongoing investigations into plans for an attack on Australian soil, the federal police said.
A 22-year-old already facing a charge of preparing for a terrorist act was also charged with funding terrorism.
“Police will allege that men were key facilitators in the movement of funds that paid for Australians to travel to the Middle East to fight with the proscribed terrorist organisation, Islamic State,” federal police said in a statement Monday.
“Police allege the men made available to a terrorist organisation approximately USD 12,300 in funds in August this year.”
The 22-year-old will face a Sydney court Friday.
More than 70 Australians are currently fighting for Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria. At least 20 have died and there are growing concerns that increasing numbers of youths are being radicalised and could mount attacks at home.
Canberra recently passed a law criminalising travel to terror hotspots without good reason, fearful that nationals will pose a threat when they return. Those charged could face up to 10 years in jail.