7:32 pm - Wednesday November 4, 2015

Police Arrest 2 Men on Terror Charges in Australia

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The 31-year-old brother of Australia’s first suicide bomber is among two men arrested following an Australian Federal Police raid on an Islamic book store south of Brisbane.

Omar Succarieh of Kuraby, and an as-yet unnamed 21-year-old man from Boronia Heights were taken into custody after police raided iQraa Islamic Centre at Underwood on Wednesday morning, along with eight other addresses.

Mr Succarieh’s brother Ahmed was investigated over an incident in Syria in September 2013 when a truck laden with explosives was driven into a military checkpoint.

 

The raids came hours after Australian Security Intelligence Organization Director-General David Irvine warned that the terrorist threat level could be lifted from “medium” to “high” this week because of the growing danger posed by Islamic State group supporters.

 

The two men, who have not been identified, are aged 21 and 31 and will appear in a court Thursday charged with making preparations for incursions into Syria with intentions of engaging in hostile activity, Gaughan said.

 

A police spokesman could not immediately explain whether the allegations were that they were preparing themselves or others to fight.

 

The 21-year-old is also charged with recruiting people to engage in hostile activities in Syria. The 31-year-old has also been charged with providing funds to Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front.

 

The potential prison sentences they face if convicted were not immediately clear.

 

“There is no information or intelligence available to police or security agencies at this time to indicate that that these males were involved in terrorism attack planning in Australia,” Gaughan told reporters, adding that the arrests and raids were the culmination of a yearlong investigation.

 

Both suspects were linked to the iQraa Islamic Center in Logan, which was among the properties raided, Gaughan said. The center is a not-for-profit book and clothing store, as well as a cafe, and has been linked in the media to jihadists.

 

Police seized a “significant amount of electronic data,” a firearm and some crossbows in the raids, Gaughan said.

 

Irvine told the National Press Club last month that an estimated 60 Australian citizens were fighting in Iraq and Syria for Jabhat al-Nursa and Islamic State, another al-Qaida offshoot. Fifteen other Australian fighters have been killed, including two young suicide bombers.

 

Irvine said last month that another 100 Australians were actively supporting extremist groups from within Australia, recruiting fighters and grooming suicide bomber candidates as well as providing funds and equipment.

 

Brisbane, the capital of Queensland state, will host President Barack Obama and other leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies at the G-20 annual summit in November.

 

Queensland Assistant Police Commissioner Gayle Hogan said there was no threat to the G-20 meeting.

 

An iQraa Islamic Center employee, Taufan Mawardi, dismissed the police raid on the premises as paranoia. “Everyone’s heightening tension and some people are getting paranoid,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television as police searched the center.

 

Australia’s government has warned that the Islamic State movement poses an unprecedented domestic terrorism threat. Australia has proposed tough counterterrorism laws and announced 630 million Australian dollars ($590 million) in new spending on intelligence, law enforcement and border protection agencies over the next four years to enhance security, including a rollout of biometric screening at airports.

 

The iQraa Islamic Center was among more than 50 Muslim organizations and imams from across Australia that added their names to a statement published last month condemning the reforms as unjust

 

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