SYDNEY (Reuters) - Two men behind what Australian police called a foiled attack linked to Islamic State referred in a seized video to “stabbing the kidneys and striking the necks” of their intended victims, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Thursday.
Australian counter-terrorism police on Wednesday said they had thwarted an imminent attack after arresting two men in Sydney and seizing knives, a video and a flag associated with the militant group.
Police said the men, aged 24 and 25, were arrested after a raid on a home in a western Sydney suburb on Tuesday and had been charged with planning a terrorist act.
Abbott, who said he was shown the video by Australian Federal Police, gave the most detailed account of the video’s contents to date, outlining what appeared to be a plot to stab or behead Australian citizens.
“... Kneeling before the death cult flag with a knife in his hand and a machete before him one of those arrested said this: ‘I swear to almighty Allah, we will carry out the first implementation for the soldiers of the caliphate in Australia’,” Abbott told parliament.
“He went on to say ... ‘I swear to almighty Allah, blond people, there is no room for blame between you and us. We only are ... stabbing the kidneys and striking the necks’.”
Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its action against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, has been on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown Islamist radicals since last year.
It raised its national terror threat level to “high” for the first time in September, when hundreds of police conducted raids after receiving information that IS supporters planned to conduct a public beheading.
Australia believes at least 70 of its citizens are fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, backed by about 100 Australia-based “facilitators”.
Abbott last year committed Australian aircraft and special forces to assist in the battle against IS in Iraq, introduced tough new laws on foreign fighters and gave security forces enhanced powers.
In December, two hostages were killed when police stormed a central Sydney cafe to end a 17-hour siege. The gunman, Man Haron Monis, a self-styled sheik with grievances against the Australian government who sought to align himself with the Islamic State group, was also killed.
Reporting by Matt Siegel