Australian security services arrested 15 people overnight in a series of raids to prevent one or more attacks on civilians that they claim were directed by a leading ISIS figure. According to the allegations, the group intended to seize a random Australian and execute him or her on camera:
In what was called the largest anti-terror operation in Australian history, police have arrested 15 people allegedly linked to the Islamic State, some who plotted a public beheading.
Police said the planned attack was to be “random.” The killers were to behead a victim and then drape the body in the black Islamic State flag, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. …
“The police activity today was about preventing this group at the earliest possible opportunity and ensuring their plans did not come to fruition,” Andrew Colvin, acting Australian Federal Police deputy commissioner, said in a statement.
“Direct exhortations were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in [the Islamic State] to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a press conference, as the BBC reported. “So this is not just suspicion, this is intent and that’s why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have.”
The Australian government took this very seriously, claiming that the demands from ISIS commander Mohammad Ali Baryalei to his fellow Australians for acts of terror were quite specific:
The raids involving 800 federal and state police officers — the largest in the country’s history — came in response to intelligence that an Islamic State group leader in the Middle East was calling on Australian supporters to kill, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.
Abbott was asked about reports that the detainees were planning to behead a random person in Sydney.
“That’s the intelligence we received,” he told reporters. “The exhortations — quite direct exhortations — were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country.” …
Abbott and Brandis did not name the Australian. But Mohammad Ali Baryalei, who is believed to be Australia’s most senior member of the Islamic State group, was named as a co-conspirator in court documents filed Thursday. Police have issued an arrest warrant for the 33-year-old former Sydney nightclub bouncer.
One of those detained, 22-year-old Omarjan Azari of Sydney, appeared briefly in a Sydney court on Thursday.
Prosecutor Michael Allnutt said Azari was involved in a plan to “gruesomely” kill a randomly selected person — something that was “clearly designed to shock and horrify” the public. That plan involved an “unusual level of fanaticism,” he said.
Eight hundred officers to arrest 15 people? I’d say this was a serious plot, and seemingly well advanced. And it may not have been the only one, either. A Christian school in Sydney has received threats as well, according to the Sydney Morning Herald:
The principal of the Maronite College of the Holy Family in Harris Park told police that men made the threats from a car outside the school about 2pm on Tuesday.
Sister Margaret Ghosn said the threats were general and then directed towards a staff member of the school.
“They said, ‘We are going to kill all of you here,’ ” Sister Margaret said.
“They were threatening to kill all Christians.”
The car reportedly had a flag, similar to those brandished by Islamic State jihadists, hanging out the window.
The Washington Post included this night-vision video of one raid in its report:
This is one reason why the rise of a terrorist state is not just a local issue, or a regional issue. Terrorist states do not want to just be “left alone,” but will spread their terror and destruction until stopped. There is plenty of room for rational and legitimate debate on the most effective way to deal with ISIS and its genocidal army, but ignoring it or shrugging it off as a problem for the Arabs to solve won’t do anything but make our options much more limited and much more costly when we finally do deal with the problem.