Australian Parliament `potential jihadist target`: PM Tony Abbott

Federal police are to take over security at Australia`s parliament, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday, describing the building as a potential terror target, following revelations that Islamic State jihadists were plotting "demonstration executions".

AFP| Last Updated: Sep 19, 2014, 06:41 AM IST

Sydney: Federal police are to take over security at Australia`s parliament, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday, describing the building as a potential terror target, following revelations that Islamic State jihadists were plotting "demonstration executions".

"Parliament House certainly is a potential target," Abbott said.

"There has been chatter amongst these terrorist support networks for some time about possible attacks on government here in Australia."

Acting on intelligence, federal police would take over security inside and outside the buildings in Canberra, the prime minister told Seven network television.

His comments came a day after hundreds of police officers staged a major pre-dawn operation across Sydney and Brisbane on Thursday detaining 15 people.

One has been charged with terrorism-related offences and nine released, police said.

At least one gun was seized, along with a sword.

Omarjan Azari, 22, appeared in a Sydney court and was remanded in custody, charged with planning a terrorist act that prosecutors alleged was designed to "shock, horrify and terrify" the community.

The video was reportedly then to be sent back to IS`s media unit in the Middle East, where it would be released to the public.

The jihadists have in recent weeks broadcast video footage of three foreign nationals being beheaded in Syria.

The raids came a week after Australia lifted the terror threat level to "high" for the first time in a decade on growing concern about militants returning from fighting in Iraq and Syria.

Abbott expanded on his comments Thursday that public beheadings had been ordered by IS militants.

"Earlier this week an Australian who is a senior ISIL operative in Syria instructed his networks here in Australia to look to commit demonstration executions," he told Seven television.

"Because we believed that a demonstration execution was likely quickly, we acted as we did to disrupt this particular network."

The government believes up to 60 Australians are fighting alongside jihadists for IS, while another 100 were actively working to support the movement at home.

Abbott played down fears Thursday`s anti-terror crackdown would alienate Muslims.

Hundreds of people marched a western Sydney suburb Thursday evening to protest against police victimisation.

The prime minister said the Lakemba demonstration was "small" and did not reflect the views of the wider community.

"The vast majority of Australian Muslims are absolutely first-class Australians," he said.