Members of the Victorian Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) expect to charge three men with engaging in a terrorist act.
This follows an extensive investigation into arson attacks on a Melbourne mosque in 2016. Late last night, a 29-year-old Meadow Heights man was arrested following a vehicle stop in Roxburgh Park.
It will be alleged that this man and two other men (who are currently in custody and awaiting trial for planning a terrorist act on or about Christmas Day 2016) caused a serious fire at the Imam Ali Islamic Centre on 11 December 2016.
The three men will be charged with engaging in a Terrorist Act, contrary to section 101.1 of the Criminal Code Act (Cth).
In addition, the two men in custody (a 25-year-old and a 27-year-old) will also be charged with this same offence for causing a previous fire at the Imam Ali Islamic Centre on 25 November 2016.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) National Manager Counter Terrorism, Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney said that attacking a place of worship was a serious crime and the community should be reassured that this type of criminality will be thoroughly pursued.
“It is clear that these arson attacks were designed to intimidate and influence those that attend this mosque and the wider Islamic community. These actions have no place in our society,” Assistant Commissioner McCartney said.
“Individuals or groups who think they are above the law when it comes to this type of intimidation should think again. This operation is another example of the strength of the cooperation between agencies in the JCTT and the collaborative approach we take to investigating terrorism offences. We are committed to doing everything we can to keep all Australians safe,” Assistant Commissioner McCartney said.
Victoria Police Counter Terrorism Command Assistant Commissioner Ross Guenther said this represents the high quality of effort delivered by the tri-agency set up in Melbourne.
“The partnership between Victoria Police, the AFP and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, which makes up the JCTT continues to achieve excellent results in protecting the Victorian community.
“Victoria Police is proud to serve a diverse multi-faith and multicultural community, and will not tolerate this kind of behaviour in our community,” Assistant Commissioner Guenther said
All three men are expected to be charged later today and face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for these offences.