They are sensitive police raids, of course. Like, you know; Â the imams and muftis need to be informed, otherwise there could be ‘backlash’ or something:
… Police briefed representatives of the local Islamic community in Melbourne on Wednesday afternoon saying 11 properties had been raided. …Â Â The Age
Joint raids by Victorian and federal police on 11 properties in Melbourne’s southeast have ended with a man arrested in connection with terrorism offences. (9-News)
… The al Furqan centre’s website includes links to a series of Wahhabi-influenced publications, including a British e-book called The Secret World.
After discussing how Western “infidels” have invaded and colonised the Middle East the book states: “People have to take it upon themselves to change the situation. …(Sydney Morning HeraldÂ bloody infidels, thanks to mullah
The operation began at 6am (AEST) at Springvale’s Al-Furqan Islamic Information Centre – described as being part of the political fringe of the city’s Muslim community – and ended with a 23-year-old from suburban Officer in custody.
He was expected to be charged with collecting or making documents likely to facilitate terrorist acts which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years’ jail.
Police wanted to assure the public there was no immediate threat to the community’s safety.
They seized a number of items including a USB memory stick containing violent extremist materials, computer equipment, imitation firearms and a number of registered firearms, a joint statement from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Victoria Police said.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner for Crime Steve Fontana said the joint investigation was ongoing.
“I would like to reassure people that we have not identified any immediate threats that pose immediate concerns to the safety of the community and we will continue to work to ensure that all steps are taken to protect all members of the community,” Mr Fontana said.
A spokesman for the Al-Furqan centre, who did not want to be identified, said police arrived at 6am and stayed until about 6pm.
“They wouldn’t allow anyone inside, they just cordoned it off,” the man told AAP.
“They took a few things and gave us a receipt.
“Everyone has been taken aback but you always have the feeling that these things can happen.
“Muslims live here and they are checking things in the neighbourhood.”
The Al-Furqan centre also engages in religious instruction and conducts lectures on Islam.
Its website carries videos of Islamist militia fighting in the Arab world, such as the uprising in Syria, separatists in Mali and reports of the Taliban infiltrating the Afghan army.
Police briefed representatives of Melbourne’s Islamic community on Wednesday afternoon about the raids which were carried out Narre Warren South, Craigieburn, Hallam, Officer, Springvale South and Noble Park.
Somewhat ironically, the operation fell a day after the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Islamic Council of Victoria president Ramzi el Sayed said Al-Furqan was part of the local Muslim political fringe and its leader, Sheik Haron, was not a member of the mainstream Muslim society.
The AFP’s acting counter terrorism national manager Justine Saunders described the arrest as a positive outcome.
“The AFP is committed to working with state and territory police, and the community in order to counter the ongoing and enduring threat of terrorism and ensure the safety and security of the community,” she said.
Mr el Sayed commended the police for consulting with the Islamic community as events unfolded.
“They carried out the raids showing a lot of respect including telling the women at some of the houses that they were coming in and for them to put on their headgear and scarves,” he told AAP on Wednesday night.
“The whole landscape of terrorism is a tough area. It’s a very fine line between what constitutes an offence and what doesn’t.”