Three men in Melbourne, aged 21 to 30 years of age, have been arrested on suspicion of planning a mass shooting. All three men had their passports cancelled earlier this year and have been under surveillance by the police since March.
Their passports were cancelled over concerns that they were planning to travel to a conflict zone and possibly partake in violent behaviour overseas.
Counterterrorism raids on the morning of Tuesday 20th November were conducted from 3:00am, involving over 200 officers from the Victorian Police force, the Australian Federal Police, and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).
These raids were following alleged attempts by the men over the past few days to obtain a .22 semi-automatic rifle to attack out a mass shooting attack.
The three men arrested have no criminal record apart from a minor offense for failing to display L plates in 2007. The trio, from Melbourne’s Northern suburbs, includes the two brothers Ertunc and Samed ErikLioglu, aged 30 and 26 respectively. All three men are Australian nationals of Turkish descent.
Police stated that the use of encrypted communications between the trio had made it harder for authorities or intelligence bodies to properly watch them.
Authorities believe that the three men had been energised by the recent Bourke Street attack on November 9th, which resulted in the death of 74 year old Sisto Malaspina.
The trio are believed to be linked to the Islamic State (IS) just as the Bourke Street attacker was, although authorities do not believe ISIS is involved.
However, the father of the two siblings involved, Armagan Eriklioglu, has claimed his sons are neither violent nor inspired by the Islamic State. His house, which was the residence of his two sons, was raided at 3:00am, with police smashing through the doors and holding him and his wife to the ground with guns pointed.
Victoria Police have released a statement that there was no ongoing threat for the public linked to these arrests. It is expected that the political climate will be impacted by this incident, especially with fears spiking over the Bourke Street attack.