BOOM! Take these suckers down before they get a chance to strike. Let’s keep this up. Hopefully it will be a safe Christmas filled with joy, love, and the capture of many ISIS terrorists.
The identities of the young men being questioned over a foiled Christmas Day terrorist plot targeting Melbourne landmarks have began to emerge.
One of those arrested is Zakaria Dabboussi, 20, an IT worker from Gladstone Park, Fairfax Media can reveal.
Mr Dabboussi was among seven arrested and five who remain in custody after police stopped what police chief commissioner Graham Ashton said was a potential multimode attack at Federation Square, Flinders Street Station and St Paul’s Cathedral.
Those in custody are all men: a 24-year-old from Meadow Heights, a 26-year-old from Dallas, a 22-year-old from Campbellfield, a two 21-year-olds from Flemington and Gladstone Park.
A 20-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man, both from Meadow Heights, were released without charge.
Chief commissioner Graham Ashton said the attack, using “explosive devices” was “mostly likely” set to be carried out on Christmas Day.
Apart from explosives, police also suspect guns and knives may have been used. Police said the suspects were “self-radicalised” but inspired by Islamic State.
Counter-terrorism police were questioning the five people in custody who are expected to face court later on Friday. Police anticipate laying charges in relation to “acts in preparation of a terrorist event.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the planned attack was “one of the most substantial terrorist plots that have been disrupted in recent years”.
In strong words condemning the plot, Mr Turnbull said: “What these criminals seek to do is kill us but they also seek to frighten us, to get us to abandon our Australian way of life.
“They want to divide Australians. We will not let them succeed.
“I want to thank the men and women of the police in Victoria, the Australian Federal Police and ASIO and other agencies for their work in thwarting this terrorist activity, which was an Islamist terrorist plot inspired – as the Victorian police commissioner just observed a moment ago – by Daesh or ISIL,” Mr Turnbull said in a press conference.
He outlined that 12 major plots had now been disrupted since September 2014, when the terror threat level was raised to “probable”, and 57 people charged as a result of 25 counter-terrorism operations.
“This news will be of great concern to all Australians. We are approaching the Christmas season, a time when we come together in peace and love, with our families. We congregate in public places for Christmas, for New Year’s Eve. It is a time of happiness and joy.
“These terrorists sought to disrupt it. They have been thwarted. They are in custody. They are no longer a threat to Australians’ security.”
Police said these men were Australian-born and in their 20s – except for one Egyptian-born man. Police said some had a Lebanese background.
Chief Commissioner Ashton said police executed search warrants in Flemington, Meadow Heights, Dallas, Campbellfield and Gladstone Park overnight as part of Operation Kastleholm. The counter-terrorism operation also involved Australian Federal Police and ASIO.
“These individuals have been persons of interest for some period of time,” he said. “They’re people we have been concerned about for a period of time.”
He said intelligence led police to step-up their investigation in the past fortnight. Surveillance of the suspects conducting reconnaissance at Federation Square lead them to believe the area was the intended target.