Melbourne/Sydney, Aug.4 (ANI): Four men have been arrested and several more are being questioned over an alleged plot to launch a suicide shootout attack at an Australian Army base.
The Australian newspaper reported that the plot centered on the Holsworthy Army base in western Sydney.
The investigation of the group, dubbed Operation Neath, involved about 150 members of the Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police and ASIO. It was launched in late January after authorities intercepted a phone call from one suspect who wanted help to fight in Somalia.
A 25-year-old man has been charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and is expected to appear in court shortly. News.com.au quoted the police as saying that a 33-year-old man, who is already in custody, is also being interviewed.
The other three arrested are aged 26, 25 and 22 respectively. So far, 19 search warrants have been executed in several suburbs across Melbourne.
The men arrested are Australian nationals of Somali and Lebanese background. Most are labourers employed in Melbourne's construction industry or taxi drivers? It has been reported that the alleged cell had about 18 members, with a hardcore center.
It was not immediately clear when the alleged attack was planned to have taken place.
Victoria Police chief commissioner Simon Overland said more details would emerge when the men faced court.
Australian Federal Police Acting Commissioner Tony Negus said the authorities would charge the men with "planning to carry out a suicide terror attack involving an armed assault with automatic weapons ... a sustained attack on military personnel until they themselves were killed".
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said today's raids show "the threat of terrorism is alive and well and this requires continued vigilance".
The alleged cell was inspired by the Somalia-based terrorist movement al-Shabaab, which is trying to overthrow the Somali government and replace it with an extreme brand of Islam.
It is understood that several members of the group wanted to travel to Somalia to fight with al-Shabaab, but when travel became difficult, they turned their attention to home. (ANI)