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Over 800 police conducted raids across Sydney, with 25 search warrants, looking for suspects linked to an Islamic State beheading plot. At least three raids were also conducted in Brisbane. Fifteen people have been detained in Sydney, including Omarjan Azari, 22, and are thought to have been tasked by Australian IS operative Mohammad Ali Baryalei with filming the beheading of an Australian for use in IS propaganda. A warrant was issued last week for the arrest of Baryalei, an IS commander who has recruited at least 30 Australians and is thought to be in Syria. Police said they had been tracking the plot since May, and warned that the suspects were planning attacks in Australia. Raids in Brisbane were linked to arrests last week of two suspected Al Nusrah Front recruiters. Earlier this week men in a car with an Islamic State flag made death threats outside a Maronite Christian school in Sydney. Authorities shut down a Sydney money-transfer business suspected of funneling cash to terrorists, and seized passports of persons in Melbourne linked to jailed terrorist Abdul Nacer Benbrika.
Prime Minister Abbott said Australia is sending 600 troops, as well as eight Super Hornet fighter jets and two other aircraft, to the UAE for possible deployment against the Islamic State in the Middle East, at the request of the US government. The father of Australian IS jihadist Mohamed Elomar warned Australians to watch for signs of extremism in their children.
Police conducted nine counterterrorism raids in the Brisbane and Logan areas, including at the iQraa Islamic Centre, and arrested Agim Kruezi, 21, and Omar Succarieh, 31, who are suspected of recruiting and fundraising for the Al Nusrah Front in Syria. Succarieh is the older brother of Abu Asma al Australi, who is thought to be the first Australian suicide bomber to die in Syria. David Irvine, Australia's spy chief, said earlier this week that the country's terrorism threat level may be raised from medium to high due to the threat posed by Australian jihadists both at home and abroad.
Intelligence chief David Irvine said that about 60 Australians are fighting in Syria or Iraq for the Islamic State or the Al Nusrah Front, and that 15 of them have died fighting there, two as suicide bombers. Irvine also warned that "dozens" have already returned home, and that another 100 Australians are known to be actively supporting jihadists groups at home by recruiting fighters, including suicide bombers, and assisting with financing. Officials said new counterterrorism units that began working at Australia's airports a week ago have stopped two would-be jihadists from traveling abroad to fight. The trial of Adnan Karabegovic, 26, suspected of planning to carry out al Qaeda-inspired terrorist acts, has been postponed. Authorities continue to monitor the activities of the relatives of the Pendennis Nine, an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group uncovered in 2005, which are thought now to extend to fighting for the Islamic State in Syria or Iraq.
Prime Minister Abbott warned that Islamic State beheadings could happen in countries like Australia if they relax their vigilance, and he urged stronger antiterrorism legislation. He said the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah has indicated support for the IS and thus that there is a risk of "increased terrorist activity in our region." Abbott also criticized "a small number of Islamic leaders, community leaders, [who] rather foolishly boycotted" recent meetings on ways to prevent disaffected young Australians from joining extremist organizations such as the Islamic State.
Defence Minister David Johnston said Australia is "not ruling out" providing backup military support for the US "as they go in and deal kinetically with this terrorist organisation." Australia is already providing two Hercules transport planes for airlifting supplies. He said: "Islamic State ... is not just a terrorist group, it is a terrorist army. They are seeking not just a terrorist enclave, but effectively a terrorist state, a terrorist nation." Australian jihadist Khaled Sharrouf reportedly posted a photo on social media of his seven-year-old son in Syria holding the severed head of an Islamic State victim. In June, the number of Australians fighting in Syria was estimated to be around 200, and ISIS was actively recruiting Australians.
The federal police issued arrest warrants for Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar, two Sydney residents who are now fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq and have threatened to kill Australian soldiers as well as all non-Muslims. Authorities estimate that 150 Australians are currently fighting in Syria and Iraq, and that about 60 of them have joined extremist groups. Attorney General George Brandis said Islamic extremism is germinating "within the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne and Brisbane."