Sydney: In a big crackdown against terror, Australian police on Thursday arrested at least 15 people who allegedly were planning a public beheading in the country. The arrested are said to be supporters of Islamic State.
The arrests were made in Brisbane and Sydney and involved over 600 police officers with one, believed to be the mastermind, due to appear in a court. At least one gun was seized.
Total of 25 search warrants were executed in the Sydney suburbs of Wentworthville, Marsfield, Westmead Beecroft, Bellavista, Guildford, Merrylands, Northmead, Castle Hill, Revesby, Bass Hill and Regents Park, ABC reported.
Similar raids took place in Brisbane with officers conducting searches on properties at Creek Road in Mt Gravatt East, as well as Logan and Underwood.
"The exhortations, quite direct exhortations, were 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," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.
"So this is not just suspicion, this is intent and that's why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have," he said.
As per investigators, the suspects were planning to conduct "demonstration killings", reportedly including beheading a member of the public on camera.
"Police believe that this group that we have executed this operation on today had the intention and had started to carry out planning to commit violent acts here in Australia," federal police chief Andrew Colvin said.
"Those violent acts particularly related to random acts against members of the public."
The latest raids followed the arrests of two people last week in Brisbane who were charged with allegedly recruiting, funding and sending jihadist fighters to Syria.
And, on Wednesday, a Sydney-based money transfer business was shut down amid concerns it was being used to funnel funds to the Middle East to finance terrorism.