Australian Federal Police officers, working in conjunction with members of the New South Wales and Victorian police service and agents from the
domestic intelligence network ASIO have apprehended three men on charges of being members of and funding a terrorist organisation. The men were
arrested in the northern suburbs of Melbourne on Friday night as part of an operation which Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon said had seriously
disrupted a planned major attack on Australian soil.
Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon said yesterday the arrests of three Melbourne men on Friday night had overcome a genuine threat.
"We believe (these) arrests have significantly disrupted the activities of a group alleged to be making arrangements to carry out a terrorist act in
Australia," she said.
The Australian Federal Police's counter-terrorism manager, Assistant Commissioner Frank Prendergast, said Operation Pendennis, which led to the
raids, was complex.
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
These arrests, as part of Operation Prendergast, represent a continuation of a crackdown on domestic terrorist suspects which began last November
with the arrest of 15 suspected terrorists in a series of massive raids in Sydney and Melbourne. As then, authorities have stated that the arrests
have forestalled plans for a major attack on Australian soil, although they pointed out that no specific targets had been chosen.
These arrests were made possible by the introduction of strong new anti-terrorism laws, which grant greater powers of arrest, surveillance and
detainment to police and ASIO, Australia's domestic intelligence agency (akin to the American FBI). Critics have labelled the new laws as Draconian,
whilst the Government has cited the arrests as evidence of both their necessity and effectiveness.
Australia stands as a logical and attractive target for terrorist organisations. A major ally of the United States, Australia has contributed troops
to both Afghanistan and Iraq and has recently demonstrated a greater willingness to throw its weight around in the South Pacific region. This has
strained relations with its nearby neighbours, especially after Prime Minister John Howard's pledge to conduct pre-emptive strikes on Asian nations
if they were aware of an imminent attack on Australia and could not or would not act to prevent it.
No doubt there will be much discussion about the validity of these arrests, in the form of "Isn't the timing of these arrests convenient given the
Government's recent [insert domestic or foreign policy issue here] problem?" However, accepting for a moment that these arrests are genuine arrests
of legitimate terrorist suspects, does this mean that the new laws are indeed necessary? How likely is a major terrorist attack on Australian soil?
Other prominent members of the Coailition have already been attacked. Is it simply a matter of time? Do these arrests mean that the War on Terror is
not perhaps as hopeless as some have suggested? Are our intelligence agencies, working behind the scenes, actually making an impact in preventing
major reprisals from terrorist organisations?
I am completely in favour of Australia playing a more prominent role as peacekeeper and, if need be, enforcer in the South Pacific. Is a major attack
simply a matter of time and do we need these laws to help protect us? What do you guys think?
Related News Links:
Related AboveTopSecret.com Discussion Threads:
WAR: Australia Introduces Tough New Counter-Terrorism Laws
NEWS: Australia Cites "Immediate Terror Threat" To Push Through Terror Laws
WAR: Australia Foils Terror Plot, Makes 15 Arrests
[edit on 2/4/06 by Jeremiah25]