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Sydney police make arrests after ‘Islamist chatter’

Two men arrested as part of an ongoing counter-terror probe into a group accused of plotting a deadly attack

Published: Updated:

Two men were arrested as part of an ongoing counterterrorism investigation into a group that officials have accused of plotting to kill a random member of the public in Sydney, police said Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

Sulayman Khalid, 20, was charged with possession of documents designed to facilitate a terrorist attack, while a 21-year-old was charged with breaching a control order, police said.

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said there was no specific terrorist threat and the arrests were related to an ongoing counterterrorism operation that had started in September.

“There is nothing that indicates at all that (there were) any specific targets or time frame in relation to this particular activity at all,” Phelan said, though he added that the documents seized by police did talk about potential government targets.

The documents seized “talked a little bit about potential government targets” in Sydney, Phelan said.

The material was concerning enough that police decided to move in and make the arrests.

“I am confident that we’ve disrupted the activity that they were planning,” Phelan added.

Khalid made a brief appearance via video link at Parramatta Local Court in western Sydney. He did not apply for bail, and the matter was adjourned until Feb. 18. He could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

The 21-year-old, whose name has been suppressed by the court, was also denied bail. He is charged with breaching a control order, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

Tuesday’s arrests bring to 11 the number of people charged in connection with the counterterrorism operation.

The latest arrests come one day after Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned there had been a “heightened level of terror chatter” in the week since a gunman took 18 people hostage in a downtown Sydney cafe.

In September, Australia’s government raised the country’s terror warning level in response to the domestic threat posed by supporters of ISIS.

[With the Associated Press]