Brothers accused of Christmas Day bomb plot
– with ABC and AAP
7:45am, Dec 23, 2016 Updated: 3:37pm, Dec 24
A family member leaves the Melbourne court precinct. Photo: AAP
Two brothers are among four men accused of planning to bomb Melbourne landmarks on Christmas Day.
Broadmeadows man Ibrahim Abbas faced the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Saturday charged with preparing or planning a terrorist act.
The 22-year-old had a black eye, which his lawyer said he had sustained during police raids across the northern suburbs on Friday morning.
Melbourne terror plot
Photo: Abdulla Chaarani (L), Ahmed Mohamad (C) and Hamza Abbas (R) were remanded in custody.
The lawyer requested a Koran and a prayer mat on Abbas’ behalf. Magistrate Steve Raleigh said the request was a matter for prison authorities.
Abbas’ 21-year-old brother, Hamza, has also been charged with preparing or planning a terrorist act. He appeared before court on Friday, along with Ahmed Mohamed, 24, from Meadow Heights and 26-year-old Abdullah Chaarani.
Police allege the men were behind an Islamic State-inspired plot targeting Flinders Street Station, Federation Square and St Paul’s Cathedral.
All four men have been remanded to reappear in court in April.
The alleged terrorism plan reportedly included improvised explosive devices, a suicide bombing and use of guns and knives.
Seven people were arrested Friday at properties in Flemington, Meadow Heights and Dallas in Melbourne over the alleged plot.
Photo: terror raids across Melbourne foil alleged terror plot
Police at the scene where a house was raided in Meadow Heights, Melbourne. Photo: AAP.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews described the alleged plot as an “act of evil”, while Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said police had seized “the makings of an improvised explosive device”.
Speaking at a press conference, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: “Our police and security agencies have disrupted a very substantial terrorist plot.
“The Victoria Police, working with the Australian Federal Police and ASIO, have arrested seven persons.
“This is one of the most substantial terrorist plots that have been disrupted over the last several years.
“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.”
Photo: Flinders Street train station in Melbourne was one of the alleged terror targets.
Commissioner Ashton said it was believed a number of people were intending to carry out an attack.
“Over the last fortnight … we have had to conduct a criminal investigation relating to the formation of what we believe was a terrorist plot,” Mr Ashton said.
“We believe that there was an intention to conduct what we call a multi-mode attack, possibly on Christmas Day.
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“We believe [the plot] was going to involve an explosive event, the use of explosives, and we gathered evidence to support that.
“There has also been evidence that we will lead around the possibility of an intention to use other weapons. That could include knives and/or a firearm.
“Certainly these [people] are self-radicalised, we believe, but inspired by ISIS and ISIS propaganda.”
One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson said the raids demonstrated why there should be a ban on Muslim immigration to Australia.
“You’re not welcome here. Go and find some other place that suits your needs, your customs, your way of life and your faith,” she said.
Increased police presence in Victoria
Premier Andrews said: “This is not an act of faith. What was being planned, what will be led in evidence, what the police will allege, was not an act of faith, not an act of religious observance, it was, instead, in its planning, an act of evil, a criminal act”.
Terror plot foiled
Photo: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for Justice Michael Keenan and Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin address the media. Photo: AAP.
He said there would be an increased police presence at large gatherings in Victoria over the Christmas period, including the Boxing Day Test, Christmas Carols and events across Victoria, after police thwarted the alleged plot.
Chief commissioner Ashton said while they are confident the terror plot has been contained, extra police will be deployed at major events to reassure the community.
“We know there’s lot of events on over the next several days right across our state including the Boxing Day test, Christmas carols, other events that are on,” he told reporters on Friday.
“There is no intelligence to suggest there is any threat whatsoever in relation to any of those events.
“However we’re just making sure we’re taking those extra precautions given what we’ve been dealing with over the last couple of weeks.”
Commissioner Ashton said he had spoken to Cricket Australia on Friday to assure additional layers of security was added to the Boxing Day Test.