The men, aged 21, 26 and 30, had been under surveillance since March and were plotting to carry out an attack on a crowded place and kill as many people as possible, police said at a news conference. The alleged terrorist cell was using encrypted communications to plan the attack and had been trying to secure .22 semi-automatic rifles.
The consequences of the attack would have been “chilling” and potentially have led to a “significant loss of human life,” police said. The men are due to be charged in court for crimes that carry a sentence of life imprisonment.
The alleged plot was revealed less than two weeks after a man allegedly inspired by Islamic State set fire to a vehicle laden with gas canisters in Melbourne’s city center and stabbed three people, killing one. He was shot dead by police.
Police said they were not aware of any links between the alleged cell arrested Tuesday and other groups. Officers first became aware of the men in 2017, and canceled their passports this year amid concerns they may try to leave Australia to fight in conflicts overseas, police said. DM
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