Sydney, March 16 (IANS) A man has been charged with planning a terror attack in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), after police became aware of his radical right-wing online activities, authorities said on Monday.
Police allege that the 21-year-old man, from Nowra in the state’s southeast, was attempting to procure military equipment including firearms, and items capable of making improvised explosive devices, reports Xinhua news agency.
He has been charged with one count of acts done in preparation for, or planning, terrorist acts – the maximum penalty for which is life imprisonment.
Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner for Counter Terrorism Scott Lee said that the decision to act and take the suspect off the streets on Saturday was partially spurred by the first anniversary of the mosque shooting in Christchurch and the similarities in the men’s ideologies.
“The decision to execute these warrants and charge a man was made to mitigate any immediate threat, ensure the ongoing safety of the community and prevent further planning or preparations that could have resulted in a terrorist attack in Australia,” Lee told the media on Monday.
In February, police became aware of a number of online posts the accused had made containing an extreme right wing and anti-government ideology, and commenced an investigation involving the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT).
After witnessing allegedly “escalating criminal actions” undertaken by the man, police executed search warrants on properties and vehicles, seizing tactical equipment and paintball guns, as well as four registered firearms from the home of an associate of the man.
“Our officers have acted swiftly in this case as the behaviour online was of significant concern,” NSW Police Force Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton said.
“There is no place for violent extremism in our community and we need to continue to unite in condemning this behaviour.”