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ASIO raids aim to spook extremists
The Age (Melbourne) ^ | 28th June 2005 | Brendan Nicholson, John Silvester, Selma Milovanovic

Posted on 06/27/2005 5:33:52 PM PDT by naturalman1975

Raids in Melbourne and Sydney yesterday by ASIO and police were part of a co-ordinated strategy to deter a loose group of Muslim extremists from graduating to terrorist activities.

ASIO, along with state and federal police, raided premises in Melbourne and Sydney yesterday after individuals in the group were monitored by state and federal counter-terrorism experts for more than 12 months.

Police say some of the suspects had shown the intent but lacked the expertise to carry out terrorist attacks in Australia.

Victorian and NSW police were involved in the ASIO-executed search warrants. No one was arrested.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock confirmed that the raids were under ASIO direction.

Sources said the raids related to those in Melbourne and Sydney last week, when ASIO and federal police raided four houses in Melbourne as part of a joint Victorian-NSW swoop on members of a radical Islamic group allegedly planning terrorist attacks in Melbourne.

ASIO and police had tracked suspected extremists as they travelled between Sydney and Melbourne. It is believed the Melbourne cell has loose links with a Sydney-based radical Islamic group.

Police last week seized property from an East Brunswick house and questioned its occupants. Those questioned are suspected of sharing a radical and violent philosophy that sees terrorism as a valid activity.

Raids in the past two weeks aim to show the suspects that they have been monitored and their activities observed.

Lacking evidence to support charges, police say the raids were designed to deter suspects "from taking the next step". "It's rattling the cages at this stage," a senior federal source said.

Suspected extremists had been seen filming two Melbourne railway stations and the Australian Stock Exchange building on the corner of Collins and King streets.

Extremist group members were bugged talking about terrorist activity overseas and discussing similar attacks in Melbourne. Several members were said to have trained at camps in regional Victoria over the past year.

It is believed the secrecy surrounding the raids has been prompted by a public outcry that followed similar raids soon after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. Those raids were seen as linked to outbreaks of racial vilification against the individuals.

TOPICS: Australia/New Zealand; War on Terror

1 posted on 06/27/2005 5:33:52 PM PDT by naturalman1975
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