CHRISTMAS has become a season not just for giving but for killing, thanks to our suicidal immigration policy.
This Christmas again. In Melbourne, police today arrested seven people to foil what they claimed was a “substantial attack” planned for Flinders St Station, Federation Square and St Paul’s Cathedral on Christmas Day.
To the surprise of nobody, they were Muslim. “They are inspired by ISIS and ISIS propaganda,” said police commissioner Graham Ashton.
But inspired, too, by Islam. Just open your eyes. Join the dots.
Hussein Obama and the UN think one of these two things is awful and unacceptable. Guess which one.
Christmas terror plan to hit midnight service
They want to bomb our Christian churches on Christmas day and yet we hear not one Islamic leader denouncing this incident.
The New Year might see many attempted attacks stopped by enforcement, however how long can enforcement authorities keep this up before they fail to stop an attack?
Interfaith lunacy against jihad?
The midnight Christmas service attended by up to 1400 worshippers at St Paul’s Cathedral was among the suspected targets of a terrorist plot that could have unleashed a Christmas Day massacre in the heart of Melbourne.
Four men have been charged with preparing or planning a terrorist act over an alleged Islamic State-inspired plot targeting Flinders Street Station, Federation Square and St Paul’s Cathedral.
Three men — Hamza Abbas, 21, of Flemington, Ahmed Mohamed, 24, from Meadow Heights and 26-year-old Abdullah Chaarani — were each charged on Friday with one count of preparing or planning a terror attack.
Three alleged Islamic extremists were charged yesterday with preparing for a terrorist act, after police foiled one of the nation’s deadliest plots, targeting the city’s iconic sites of Flinders Street Station, Federation Square and the Anglican cathedral.
A fourth man from Melbourne’s north faced being charged last night after a joint operation by Victoria Police, ASIO and Australian Federal Police. Sources did not rule out that a suicide bomber attack had been possible.
The alleged terrorist cell is accused of having planned to use explosives, knives and possibly guns to create carnage on one of the busiest and most symbolic days of the year, when the city is full of families and children.
The police operation continued last night with officers investigating a northern suburbs phone-repair business linked to the original arrests. Seven people in total were arrested, with three released from custody.
Police believe the group was inspired by the Islamic State terror group but was self-radicalised. At least some of the group’s members attended and occasionally prayed at the Hume Islamic Youth Centre, which has been linked to jihadists who have fought in Syria with various forces.
Despite the alleged plot, Malcolm Turnbull urged Australians to celebrate Christmas as normal and not be cowed by the terror threat. “This is one of the most substantial terrorist plots that has been disrupted over the last several years,” the Prime Minister said. “But we must not be cowed by the terrorists.’’
After monitoring the men during the past 10 days, up to 400 police swooped early yesterday and Thursday night on five properties across north and northwest Melbourne, arresting six men and one woman in connection with Operation Kastelholm.
The decision to make the arrests came after police learned that the attack was likely to take place on Christmas Day. Early this week several suspects were observed by counter-terror police as they visited Flinders Street Station, Federation Square and St Paul’s Cathedral, in what police believe was an attempt to stake out the likely targets of the attack.
The Anglican priest responsible for St Paul’s Cathedral, Dean of Melbourne Andreas Loewe, described the foiled terrorist plot as a “deliberate attempt to disrupt our joyful celebrations of Christmas’’ and vowed to celebrate “wholeheartedly and intentionally’’ in defiance of those who would do us harm. “We particularly give thanks that this was discovered so timely and decisively,’’ he said.
Police believe the attackers planned to detonate at least one home-made bomb and use knives or guns in the assault, which Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton described as a “multi-mode attack’’. He said police had discovered materials that could be used to make at least one bomb. “There has also been evidence that we will lead around the possibility of an intention to use other weapons,” he said. “That could include knives and/or a firearm.”
Mr Ashton said the group appeared to have been self-radicalised with propaganda from Islamic State. At least some of the men appear to have a connection to the family of jailed terrorist leader Abdul Nacer Benbrika, the head of the 2005 Pendennis plot, via his son Bakr Benbrika’s Facebook account. Bakr Benbrika, who was stopped at Melbourne Airport on suspicion of planning to travel to Syria last year, is Facebook friends with two of the accused and had yesterday morning liked a comment posted by the brother of another arrested man calling police “dogs”.
An Islamic State propaganda video last month urged terrorists to attack Melbourne landmarks including St Paul’s and the airport.
Sources said police feared the plot could include an attack at either the midnight Christmas service or the Christmas Day morning service at St Paul’s, both of which have relatively low security and attract 1000 to 1400 people.
Abdullah Chaarani, 26, of Dallas in Melbourne’s north, appeared first in court dressed in tracksuit pants and a black Adidas T-shirt. He sat silently during the brief hearing before magistrate Mary Robertson as police prosecutors told the court large amounts of digital evidence had been seized during the execution of six search warrants and it would take time for it to be forensically analysed. His lawyer, Jessie Smith of Stary Norton Halphen, did not apply for bail.
Hamza Abbas was the second accused to face court before magistrate Timothy Bourke, dressed in a dark grey T-shirt. Ms Smith, who represented all three accused, told the court Mr Abbas, 21, of Flemington, could be vulnerable in custody due to his youth.
She asked for a nurse to attend to her client, saying he had suffered soft-tissue injuries in the arrest. Mr Abbas appeared to have bruising on his cheek and Ms Smith said he had sustained face, back, hip and shoulder injuries.
The court heard the third accused, Ahmed Mohamed, had a pre-existing back injury that required medication. Mr Mohamed, 24, of Meadow Heights, was wearing a grey T-shirt and jeans during his brief court appearance.
He raised his hands as if to be handcuffed before leaving the courtroom and waved to four women wearing Islamic dress sitting in the back of the room. The three men were remanded to appear in court again in April.
Outside the court, two of the women clashed with TV camera crews and photographers.
A fourth man, a 22-year-old from Broadmeadows was last night remanded in custody to reappear in court today.
Zak Dabboussi, 21, of Gladstone Park, who was arrested, was released from custody last night.
Mr Ashton said four of those arrested were Australian-born with a Lebanese background and another was an Egyptian-born Australian citizen. Mr Chaarani’s sister answered the door at the family’s Fawkner home to protest her brother’s innocence. “I’m not surprised, they are targeting all Muslims,” she said.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the foiled plot could have been worse than previous plots.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: RICK WALLACE, BEN BUTLER, MARK SCHLIEBS, RICK MORTON