Seventeen people have been arrested in Sydney and Melbourne and charged with various offences with relation to an intention to commit terrorist attacks on Australian targets. Police found chemical stockpiles in their raids which were similar to the sort used in the London bombings in July.
There is no indication as yet as to what the terrorists had in mind as targets, but it does appear as if the groups had reached an advanced stage of planning. As a result, a co-ordinated surveillance effort of 18 months was turned into a massive police operation involving domestic security services, the Australian federal police and state police forces. They swooped in co-ordinated raids to apprehend the suspects.
The suspects all appear to be followers of one Abdul Nacer Benbrika, a radical Muslim cleric based in Melbourne.
This is a major tactical victory against terrorists in Australia, because it demonstrates the ability of police and security agencies to effectively counter bomb-making efforts before they have a chance to succeed. Islamist extremists who wish to strike in Australia now clearly know that they will have to devote greater efforts to security and that in turn means less efforts can go into creating mayhem. This in turn means that international groups are less likely to devote resources like bomb-makers, money and propaganists towards a ‘hard’ target like Australia.
In the long term, though, it is nevertheless of concern because this affair reveals that even in faraway Australia, Islamic hatemongers can find willing tools that can be manipulated into fulfilling their murderous fantasies. Until the hatemongers are stopped, it seems that the terrorism will continue, with all the loss of life, liberties and humanity that follows.