The alleged terrorist attack planned for Melbourne on Anzac Day was designed to target police officers.
AFP Acting Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan also said it was believed the attacks were to have involved the use of “edged knives”.
“It is alleged both men were undertaking preparations for a terrorist attack at an Anzac Day activity in Melbourne which included targeting police officers,” he said.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton described the plot as being inspired by Islamic State (IS).
“At this stage we have no information that it was a planned beheading. But there was reference to an attack on police,” he told a news conference in Melbourne.
“Some evidence that was collected at a couple of the scenes and some other information we have leads us to believe that this particular matter was ISIS-inspired.”
The two men, an 18-year-old Hallam man and an 18-year-old Hampton Park man, were arrested this morning during a major joint counterterrorism team operation.
Another man was arrested for weapons offences and two other men were in custody assisting police with their enquiries, after seven search warrants were executed as part of Operation Rising.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Gaughan said this morning’s operation involved 200 police officers and was the culmination of Operation Rising.
It’s understood a number of the arrested men attended the Al Furqan Islamic study centre in South Springvale and were associates of Abdul Numan Haider, who also attended the centre.
Haider was shot and killed by counterterrorism police in September last year.
The national terrorism alert level remains high and anyone who sees suspicious activities is advised to call the national security hotline on 1800 123 400.
Deputy Commissioner Patton said members of the community should not feel anxious.
“At this stage we’re comfortable that we have this threat fully contained,” he said.
“[Members of the public] should feel reassurance as a result of the operations.
“This goes to highlight the significance that we place on community safety and the efforts that we will go to in putting resources and time commitment into ensuring that the public are safe and free from terrorism.
“We are quite confident that the security we have in place for all activities, not just in the next week, but in the next months, and into the future, is going to be sufficient to ensure that we have adequate safety for all members of the public.”
Two of the suspects sustained minor injuries during their arrest.
All five men remain in police custody.