Arrests Made As 600 Police Raid Sydney And Brisbane Homes In Nation’s Biggest Counter Terrorism Operation

Police officers standing over a suspect after the raids this morning. Photo: NSW Police

Australian police and intelligence officials have launched a vast counter terrorism operation this morning across several sites in Sydney and Brisbane.

Police have released video and photos showing heavily armed officers entering homes before dawn this morning.

Some 600 federal and state police officers were involved. It’s been reported a dozen arrests have been made and the operation is ongoing.

Last week it was reported that ASIO believed Islamic extremists have a “settled intention” to conduct an attack in Australia.

The operation follows months of surveillance of Australians allegedly linked to the extremist terror group Islamic State, or ISIS, in Iraq and Syria.

NSW Police confirmed the operation was “a joint counter-terrorism operation involving the NSW Police and Australian Federal Police (AFP).”

A number of search warrants were executed this morning. The Sydney suburbs involved included Beecroft, Bellavista, Guildford, Merrylands, Northmead, Wentworthville, Marsfield, Westmead, Castle Hill, Revesby, Bass Hill and Regents Park.

Guildford resident Mark Anderson told Fairfax Media when he woke up at about 4.30am this morning there was a police helicopter circling a house down his street and a Police cordon had been established.

“I heard them calling out to him to ‘Come out!’ for about 10 to 15 minutes. I don’t know if he was too agreeable. I didn’t really understand a name. It was pretty intense,” he said.

“I pulled out of my driveway and turned to go to the bowling club, and a black armoured truck was there.”

The ABC reported another Guildford neighbour said the residents of the home raided in the Sydney suburb had lived there for about three weeks and there had been lots of movement at the property.

Three search warrants were also carried out in Brisbane’s south – in Upper Mount Gravatt East, Logan, and Underwood.

Underwood is the same suburb where police raided an Islamic bookstore last week. More on that here.

It comes after Australia last week raised its terror alert level from “medium” to “high” for the first time in history.

The federal government’s Department of Infrastructure has called on major airports to review security procedures, including “active shooter” response plans to attacks by gunmen in public places and raise awareness among the travelling public of the new security requirements.

The rise of ISIS has been an increasing domestic security concern in Australia. The country has been the highest per capita contributor of fighters to the militia which is in control of large parts of Iraq and Syria, with up to 60 Australians believed to have joined them. In recent months ministers have increasingly been warning of the threat ISIS sympathisers pose in Australia.

Around 100 Australians are believed to be supporting ISIS at home.

Prime minister Abbott on the weekend said he will deploy 600 troops to join the battle against ISIS in Iraq after receiving a request from the United States for assistance.

“The force will comprise up to eight super hornet aircraft, an early warning and control aircraft, an aerial refuelling aircraft, and a Special Forces contingent that could act as military advisers to the Iraqi armed forces or to the Peshmerga.”

Here is the footage NSW Police released of today’s arrests in Sydney.