Two men have been arrested in counter-terrorism raids in Sydney after police thwarted what they say were plots to attack locations including a naval base and police headquarters.
Abdullah Salihy, 24, was arrested at Memorial Avenue in Merrylands and Mohamed Almaouie, 20, was arrested in Bankstown.
Salihy has been charged with one count of collecting or making documents likely to facilitate terrorist acts – a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment.
The Australian Federal Police said it would allege in court that this charge related to documents seized as part of Operation Appleby in December 2014.
Almaouie was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit acts done in preparation, or planning, terrorist acts – a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
This charge also concerns material seized by Operation Appleby investigators last December.
Five other men were charged with the same offence earlier this month in relation to the same documents.
Neither Salihy or Almaouie appeared in Parramatta Local Court.
Magistrate Carl Milovanovich formally refused bail to both men, with Almaouie set to appear at Central Local Court on January 20, 2016 and Salihy due to appear on March 2, 2016.
Deputy NSW Police Commissioner Catherine Burn said there was no specific threat to the community but that a naval base was among the locations the suspects had discussed.
“In there, Woolloomooloo naval base was one of the locations that were discussed, but there wasn’t a specific place identified,” Deputy Commissioner Burn said.
She said the police investigation disrupted the planned terrorism plot.
Deputy Commissioner Burn said the arrests related to plots thwarted by Operation Appleby last year and in December of this year, and that the foiled attacks were not new.
“I do need to stress that this activity today relates to events of last year, it relates to documents and other material seized in search warrants last year,” she said.
“There is no specific threat, there is no current threat, there is no pending threat, and at this time of the year when we are moving into Christmas and new year, please make sure that you go about your business.”
Deputy Commissioner Burn said the headquarters of the Australian Federal Police and the NSW Police had been previously identified as targets of the plot.
“We will allege in their planning that they mentioned a few locations,” she said.
“What we know is that we had information and we acted to prevent anything from happening.”
Deputy Commissioner Burn said it was “difficult to speculate” when the attacks were due to be carried out.
She refused to go into detail about how detailed the documents were or if they mentioned explosives. She said the details would come out in court.
A police source told the ABC that the Merrylands home of Salihy raided this morning was also raided earlier this month.
Hand-written documents seized during the earlier raid on the Merrylands home detailed plans for an alleged attack.
Police returned this morning to Almaouie’s home in Bankstown after raids earlier this month.
Deputy Commissioner Burn said the offence Salihy was charged with carries a maximum of 15 years’ penalty, if convicted.
“And at court we will allege that the documents related to documents that we seized during our search warrants that we conducted last year,” she said.
Police ‘won’t be having Christmas break’
Deputy Commissioner Burn said that New Year’s Eve was not mentioned in the information the police had.
She said an enormous number of police had been involved in the raids since September last year.
“And they have done an absolutely outstanding job. And they won’t be stopping because of these arrests today,” Deputy Commissioner Burn said.
“They will be working every day, they won’t be having the Christmas break. They won’t be out on New Year’s Eve.
“We will make sure that our police are there and that they are doing everything possible to make sure everybody is as safe as [possible].”
12 arrests made under Operation Appleby
The counter-terrorism raids are part of Operation Appleby, an ongoing operation that has been focusing on a group of about 20 young men who police allege are committed to carrying out a terrorist attack in Australia.
Deputy Commissioner Burn said the operation had a been complex, long-standing investigation into alleged terrorism plots to conduct an attack in NSW.
There have been a series of police raids since the biggest counter-terrorism raids in Australia’s history were carried out in September last year.
Further raids have been carried out this year after police accountant Curtis Cheng was shot dead outside the Parramatta police headquarters in October.
Police allege this group have been behind a series of terrorist plots, including the murder of Mr Cheng.