Australia’s three largest cities – Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – have all been subject to alleged terrorist threats over the past two weeks, with police and intelligence agencies carrying out raids, arresting and charging suspected jihadists and ramping up security and surveillance.
The latest development in the threat to national security occurred in Melbourne overnight, where an 18-year-old man was shot dead by Police after allegedly making threats against the Prime Minister and stabbing two officers at Endeavour Hills in Melbourne’s south-east.
Last week, in the early hours of Thursday morning, federal and state police and officials from Australian security agency ASIO conducted counter-terror raids in Sydney and Brisbane suburbs.
In mid-September two men from Brisbane were arrested and charged with terrorism offences after raids were carried out on an Islamic bookstore on Logan Road at Underwood.
The nation’s capital also faced threats last week after security agencies picked up on “chatter” pertaining to a potential attack on the Prime Minister and Parliament House in Canberra.
Here is a timeline of the key events in Australia’s ongoing fight against terrorism:
Wednesday September 10:
- Terror threat level raised from medium to high for the first time ever
- Two men charged with terror-related offences following raids in Brisbane
Sunday September 14:
- Australia commits 600 military personnel and aircraft to the Middle East
Wednesday September 17:
- Key transport hubs asked to review “active shooter” plans and policies
Thursday September 18:
- Police launch “Australia’s largest counter-terrorism operation”
- Targeted group planning “random acts of violence” against the public
- Omarjan Azari arrested, charged with terrorist offences and refused bail
- PM Tony Abbott said “direct exhortation” came from a senior ISIL leader
- Authorities closely monitoring behaviour amid concerns of retribution
Friday September 19:
- Security agencies warn Parliament House was “scoped out” for attack
Monday September 22:
- Attorney-General forges ahead with changes to counter-terrorism legislation
Tuesday September 23:
- ISIS release call-to-arms video encouraging supporters to kill “disbelievers”
- Police shoot dead alleged terror suspect in Melbourne after officers stabbed
- Muslim community leaders label Police comments about shooting as “pre-emptive”
PM addresses Parliament in a statement on national security
In response to last night’s shooting in Melbourne Prime Minister Tony Abbott reiterated rhetoric that “there are people in our community who are capable of very extreme acts,” and insisted “the police will be constantly vigilant to protect us against people who would do us harm”.
Australia’s Muslim community has said it feels under siege because of the language used during public debates about the terrorist group ISIS.
Islamic Council of Victoria secretary Ghaith Krayem said language used by politicians, including the Prime Minister, “increases the tension”.
As the government prepares to implement the next tranche of laws to combat anti-terrorism in Australia, Abbott warned Australians that the fight against terrorism is nowhere near over and the threat to the Australian way of life is real.
“Regrettably, for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift,” he said.
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