Australian police say they have foiled an ISIS inspired terror attack planned for Christmas Day in the heart of one of Australia’s largest cities .
Terror plotters allegedly planned to attack Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station, Federation Square and St Paul’s Cathedral.
Heavily armed police raided homes across Melbourne’s north on Friday morning and made seven arrests.
Five Muslim men aged between 21 and 26 were arrested across Gladstone Park, Flemington, Campbellfield, Meadow Heights, and Dallas. Four of them were born in Australia and are of Lebanese background, while a fifth is an Egyptian-born Australian citizen.
One of the men arrested is Zak Dabboussi from Gladstone Park. His Facebook page is prolific with religious material including quotes from the Koran. Through his online persona he showed signs of becoming increasingly religious over the past 18 months and concerned over the war in Syria.
Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said police had been watching the alleged plotters for some time, and believed they were preparing a multi-mode attack.
“Over that last fortnight that has accelerated,” Mr Ashton told reporters on Friday.
“If this had got under our guard it would have been a significant attack,” he said.
He said the alleged would-be terrorists were inspired by ISIS.
Mr Ashton said police had gathered evidence in the raids that the plotters were planning to use explosives in their attack.
“We gathered the makings of an improvised explosive device,” Mr Ashton said.
“(There was) certainly potential for quite a number of people to be injured or killed in this attack.”