One of two men at the centre of an alleged Sydney terrorist plot recorded a video in front of an Islamic State flag just 20 minutes before heavily armed officers stormed the pair’s makeshift home, police say.
Omar Al-Kutobi, 24, a student who fled war-torn Iraq for Australia, and Mohammad Kiad, 25, a nurse who moved from Kuwait in 2012, are accused of plotting an imminent terrorist act.
The men were arrested during a raid on the converted garage they were living in in the backyard of a house in Fairfield on Tuesday.
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Police say a machete, hunting knife and home-made Islamic State flag were found in the home.
Kutobi and Kiad have been charged with undertaking acts in preparation or planning for a terrorist act.
Their case was due to be heard in Fairfield Local Court on Wednesday but was adjourned to Sydney’s Central Local Court because of security issues and the nature of the charges.
They will appear via video link on Thursday.
Police say planned attack ‘consistent’ with Islamic State
Police received a tip-off that the men were planning an attack on Tuesday morning.
They placed them under urgent surveillance, tracking them through Sydney before making their move.
They say at 3:00pm local time, the men bought a hunting knife from a military supplies shop.
It was then the counter-terrorism team decided to intervene and raid the Fairfield property.
“The type of act that we will allege that was going to be undertaken is consistent with the messaging coming out of IS,” NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn said.
“I would like to however reassure the community that we are of the view that there is no further imminent attack relating to these two men.
“When we did the search of the premises, a number of items were located, including a machete, a hunting knife, a home-made flag representing the proscribed terrorist organisation IS, and also a video which depicted a man talking about carrying out an attack,” Deputy Commissioner Burn said.
“We will allege that both of these men were preparing to do this act yesterday.”
She said the video allegedly seized in the raid was what made police believe the attack was imminent.
“One of the items that will be introduced into evidence is a video, and in that video, we will allege that one of the men indicated that an attack was going to be carried out,” she said.
“We can’t go into the details of what was actually said in that message. However, the intent is clear and the intent is what I have told you today.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament on Wednesday that “police found a large ISIL or Daesh (Islamic State) flag, a machete, and a hunting knife, and a video recording of one suspect kneeling in front of the ISIL flag with the two knives whilst making a statement in Arabic”.
Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said NSW and federal officers acted together as quickly as they could.
“We believe that the men were potentially going to harm somebody, maybe even kill somebody, and potentially using one of the items that we identified and recovered yesterday, potentially a knife,” he said.
Mr Abbott said the arrests were evidence the approach of authorities was working.
“This is a serious issue and I suspect it will get worse before it gets better… there are those out there, some living in our midst who would do us harm.”