SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian counter-terrorism police said they arrested a 24-year-old man in Sydney on Thursday on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, the latest in a string of arrests connected with radical Islamist-inspired violence.
“A Bankstown man was arrested today by the Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) Sydney as part of the ongoing Operation Appleby investigation into the alleged planning of a terrorist attack in Australia,” the Australian Federal Police said in a statement.
“It will be alleged in court the man was one of a number of people – who have been previously charged regarding this matter - involved in formulating documents connected with preparations to facilitate, assist or engage a person to undertake a terrorist act.”
Last week, police carried out raids across Melbourne in connection with five men accused of planning to travel to Syria to join Islamic State via a journey that would start with a motor boat trip from Australia to Indonesia.
The men, aged between 21 and 31, were charged with preparing to enter a foreign country “for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities”, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The five, who were not identified, were arrested after towing a seven-meter (23-foot) motor boat almost 3,000 km (1,865 miles) from Melbourne to Cairns in the northern state of Queensland.
In an unrelated incident on the same day, police in Sydney arrested an 18-year-old man for allegedly planning to obtain a gun to commit a terrorist act targeting public buildings or landmarks in the city.
Australia, a staunch U.S. ally, has been on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown radicals since 2014 and authorities say they have thwarted a number of plots. There have been several “lone wolf” assaults, including a 2014 cafe siege in Sydney that left two hostages and the gunman dead.
About 100 people have left Australia for Syria to fight alongside organizations such as Islamic State, Australia’s Immigration Minister said last month.
Also in 2014, police shot dead a Melbourne teenager after he stabbed two counter-terrorism officers.
A 15-year-old boy fired on an accountant at police headquarters in a Sydney suburb last October and was then killed in a gunfight with police.
Reporting by Matt Siegel; Editing by Robert Birsel