The family of a Melbourne teenager charged with terror-related offences has expressed distress over his arrest.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Robert Hill said: “We have dealt with his family and his family are a caring, loving family that are now very, very distraught as a consequence of what is alleged. It has undoubtedly taken them by surprise.
“This is a challenge for law enforcement agencies not only in Victoria, around Australia, but across the Western world.
“We have a new challenge where we have young people that have been influenced by radical thinking, something we’re dealing with as a law enforcement body with Government, but more importantly with community.”
AFP Deputy Commissioner Mike Phelan said the wider community needed to address the radicalisation of young people.
“We’ve got to do something about this problem. All of us. All in the community. It’s got nothing to do with faith,” he said.
“This is about all the community, all families getting together, having a greater understanding of what your children are doing.”
Police believe they thwarted a Mother’s Day attack after the raids in Melbourne’s northern suburbs led to the 17-year-old’s arrest and the discovery of three crude pipe bombs.
The devices were later detonated in a park in Greenvale, a leafy suburb on Melbourne’s northern outskirts, and the youth charged with two terror-related offences. He was remanded to face court on Monday.
“They (the devices) were very rudimentary but that doesn’t really matter because at the end of the day an explosion is an explosion,” Mr Phelan said.
“Victoria Police have been working with the Australian Federal Police and other security agencies dealing with an imminent threat to the community of Victoria,” Mr Hill said.
“This matter has been subject to an intense investigation, especially over the last nine days. The investigation has been methodical. Our resolution phase has been precise and measured.
“On Thursday afternoon, an agreement was reached that we would resolve this matter with direct action.”
Mr Hill said the 17-year-old male was arrested as he was leaving the Clare Street house.
“The facts are this: as a male was leaving that address in a motor car with a female he was intercepted by our specialist police. The male was taken into custody. The female was secured.
“We then cordon-contained the address and we asked the three other occupants in the house to come forward, which they did.”
Fairfax reported that police believed an attack was being planned for Mother’s Day, but did not know if there were three targets, a single location, or if some of the bombs were to be used against emergency service responders.
They also reported that police would be investigating friends and associates of the youth in custody amid fears he was not acting alone. He is believed to have recently dropped out of school and become radicalised after spending increasing amounts of time in his bedroom on the internet.
The raids come just weeks after police arrested several teenagers during anti-terror raids in Melbourne’s south-east.
It is alleged those involved were conspiring to commit a terrorist attack on Anzac Day in Melbourne.
Harun Causevic, 18, appeared in court yesterday over the matter and was refused bail by a Melbourne magistrate.
Earlier it was revealed Victoria Police had ramped up security measures for its officers.
Police in Victoria will no longer be allowed to work alone under new safety procedures put in place because of heightened security concerns.