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Thursday, December 22, 2016

2 More Christmas Attacks by Muslim Terrorists Aborted

Five in custody over alleged Christmas Day
terror plot in Melbourne

A policeman blocks the road as they search a house in the Melbourne suburb of Meadow Heights on Friday CREDIT: AAP VIA REUTERS
 Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney 

Police in Australia have arrested a group of Islamic radicals believed to be planning an “evil” terrorist attack at numerous landmarks in the centre of Melbourne, possibly on Christmas Day.

The plotters are believed to have included six men and one woman, all in their 20s, who allegedly planned to plant bombs and use knives and firearms to launch a “multi-node” attack at Federation Square, Flinders Street Station and St Paul's Cathedral, some of the best-known and busiest sites in the city.

Five people remain in custody, including four Australian-born men – some of whom had a Lebanese background - and an Egyptian-born Australian man.

Several of the alleged attackers have been seen conducting reconnaissance at Federation Square, a popular meeting place and tourist landmark in the city centre.

Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s prime minister, said the plot was one of the most “substantial” attempted terrorist attacks in recent history.

“What they [security authorities] have uncovered is a plot to explode improvised explosive devices in central Melbourne in the area of Federation Square, on or about Christmas Day,” he said.

“We must not be cowered by the terrorists. They want to frighten Australians. They want to divide Australians. They want us to turn on each other. We will not let them succeed."

The foiled plot comes with security on heightened alert in Australia after a truck drove into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people in an attack claimed by Isil.

Police said the suspects were "self-radicalised" but inspired by Islamic State. The seven people were taken into custody and five locations were searched across Melbourne following a two-week operation involving state and federal police and ASIO, the domestic spy agency. A 26-year-old man and 20-year-old woman have  since been released.

“We believe [the plot] was going to involve an explosive event,” said commissioner Graham Ashton, chief of police in the state of Victoria.

"There has also been evidence that we will lead around the possibility of an intention to use other weapons. That could include knives and/or a firearm."

Authorities have foiled twelve alleged terrorist plots in Australia since September 2014. But four have taken place, including the murder of a Sydney police employee last year.

Daniel Andrews, Victoria’s premier, said there would be a bolstered security presence at large gathering across the state during Christmas.

"This is not an act of faith,” he said.

“What was being planned, what will be led in evidence, what the police will allege, was not an act of faith, not an act of religious observance. It was, instead, in its planning, an act of evil, a criminal act.

The arrested men are due to face court later on Friday.

Counter-terror police have made a large number of arrests since late 2014, with the youth and depth of radicalisation of many of those detained a growing concern.

Germany arrests 2 men suspected of
plotting mall terror attack

© Woeiman / YouTube

German authorities have arrested two brothers from Kosovo on suspicion of planning an attack on a shopping centre in Northwest Germany

“The 28- and 31-year-old brothers born in Kosovo are suspected of having prepared a possible attack in the shopping center in Oberhausen,” Essen police said in a statement.

The two suspects were detained early Friday morning following a special forces raid on their residence. Authorities said that they are now in the process of determining “how far preparations had been made and whether other persons were involved.”

During the raid, authorities had requested fire brigades and emergency services to be on standby in the area in case they had to intervene immediately in an emergency, Bild reported.

Tipped off by the intelligence services, authorities said that they deployed additional police forces to the mall and the adjacent Christmas market in Oberhausen before the raid by Thursday evening.

Friday morning arrests happened as police across Germany mobilized all resources to apprehend the perpetrator of Monday's attack on a Berlin Christmas market.

German authorities are offering a reward of up to €100,000 ($104,000) for information leading to the arrest of a 24-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri.

Oberhausen, Germany