SHAFAQNA- 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 Associated Press reported 800 officers raided more than a dozen locations in Sydney, Brisbane and Logan.
New South Wales police posted footage of one of the raids.
“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.”
One of those arrested, Omar Azari, appeared in court today, police told The Washington Post.
Dan Box of the Australian has been tweeting from court. He reported Azari is accused of conspiring with Mohammad Ali Baryalei, “alleged to have become one of the top recruiters in Australia for Islamic State,” according to the Australian.