The Australian Federal Police (AFP) have arrested two men in Sydney as part of a renewed joint counter terrorism operation.
A 21-year-old Marsfield man was arrested for breaching a control order and a 20-year-old Regents Park man was arrested and charged with possessing documents designed to facilitate a terrorist attack.
AFP deputy commissioner Michael Phelan said the documents pertained to “potential government targets”.
“We don’t have specifics of the plan but there were enough concerns that something was being planned… to clearly facilitate an attack,” he said.
Phelan said these individuals were part of a particular group that security authorities have been monitoring for more than a year.
He said the group of around 15-20 individuals, whose “ideology is linked” to Islamic State (ISIS), had “conversations before the Sydney siege” and this activity continued after last week’s events.
“Community safety is absolutely paramount in everything we are doing. That’s why we have already seen 11 people put before the courts on terror-related charges,” Phelan said.
The 20-year-old man, identified as Sulayman Khalid, also known as Abu Bakr, appeared earlier this year on SBS television show Insight wearing a jacket emblazoned with the Islamic State flag and stormed off the set after he was questioned about his allegiance to the terrorist group.
Both men have been reprimanded in custody and denied bail after fronting Parramatta local court today. They will appear in court again from February next year.
A large groups of women dressed in traditional Islamic garb appeared alongside Khalid’s family outside Parramatta courts in a show of support.
“All that we ask if that the court process be respected and this matter to be determined by the evidence and not by politicians and the media,” Khalid’s lawyer told media.
The arrests were triggered by last week’s overnight raids where search warrants were executed on five residential properties in the Sydney suburbs of Marsfield, Regents Park, Wiley Park, Georges Hall and Condell Park.
The arrests are part of Operation Appleby, a joint operation between the AFP and NSW Police, which commenced in September with raids on multiple properties in western Sydney by more than 600 police officers.
In November, AFP assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan warned of further counter-terrorism operations following the September raids while speaking as a guest on ABC’s Q&A program.
Last week a 25-year-old Beecroft man was arrested in western Sydney as part of joint counter-terrorism initiatives.
Yesterday Prime Minister Tony Abbott revealed security agencies have been monitoring “a heightened level of terrorist chatter” since the Martin Place siege in which two hostages were killed along with the gunman, Man Haron Monis.
Police say the recent raids and subsequent arrests are not linked to the Sydney Siege.
NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn said Sydneysiders should do what they normally do over the Christmas and New Year break.
“The activity we have undertaken has put us in a very good position,” she said.
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