Werribee man, 20, arrested over alleged New Year’s Eve terrorism plot

By @chelean on
Photo of a pair of handcuffs Reuters/File

A 20-year-old Werribee man has been arrested in Melbourne for allegedly plotting terrorism on New Year’s Eve. His arrest on Monday was part of the Operation San Jose from the Joint Counter Terrorism Team, consisting of the Victoria Police, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

Police believed that the unnamed man was involved in undertaking preparation for a planned terrorist act around Federation Square in Melbourne CBD on New Year’s Eve. The Australian-born Muslim, who was born to Somali parents, was arrested by heavily armed police on Synnot Street in Werribee.

The man apparently unsuccessfully tried to buy automatic firearm to “shoot and kill as many people as he could,” Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said. Police made their move to arrest him because he had been having face-to-face meetings about getting a gun. He is believed to be connected to other extremists. He was also said to be found in possession of an al-Qaeda guidebook on how to carry out terrorism.

“We are monitoring this person. He has been subject to our active investigation and at no stage did he access a firearm – albeit that was his intention,” Patton told reporters on Tuesday. He added, “The potential of the attack is catastrophic. This is a person who has expressed an intention to try and kill as many people as he could.”

The man is currently being interviewed in relation to the offences of Acts in Preparation to Commit a Terrorist Attack and Collecting Documents to Facilitate a Terrorist Act. Police also executed warrants at two residential properties in Werribee and Meadow Heights and at a commercial property in Footscray, where he worked.

His father has denied his son could be involved in terrorism, saying, “He’s very innocent.” A neighbour, meanwhile, told The Age that family were “lovely, everyday people.” She also believed that the “heartbroken” father, who apologised to her for the hassle regarding Monday’s arrest, didn’t know anything.

The owner of Wix Computers in Footscray where the accused worked described him as a “very quiet boy.” His employee’s arrest was a shock because the man never spoke much.