Hospital hearing for suspect

The 28-year-old from West Hoxton in Sydney’s west was charged with a range of offences including a terrorism-related charge.

He was shot in the neck on Tuesday while attempting to flee police.

This comes after Australian Federal Police raided another house in Sydney overnight as part of ongoing counter-terrorism operations, following the arrest of 16 suspects on Tuesday morning.

About 20 Australia Federal Police (AFP) officers, including forensic investigators, surrounded a house in Revesby in Sydney’s southwest late on Tuesday and later appeared to be photographing the front yard and rooms inside.

A young man accompanied by three women was seen trying to return to the house but was restrained by AFP officers, before lashing out at media crews across the road.

An AFP spokesman on Wednesday said no one was arrested or removed from the home during the raid.

Suspects charged

Tuesday’s raids, in which 16 people were arrested in Sydney and Melbourne, were part of the biggest counter-terrorism operation ever mounted in Australia.

The suspects later appeared in court — seven in Sydney and nine in Melbourne.

Police alleged they had foiled an imminent bomb attack by a group committed to killing innocent people in the name of jihad.

Members of the Sydney and Melbourne groups had undergone military training, had guns and had gathered chemicals, it was alleged.

The seven arrested in Sydney were charged with conspiracy to act in preparation for a terrorist act, namely the manufacture of explosives.

No bail applications were granted and the cases were adjourned until Friday.

The nine arrested in Melbourne were charged with knowingly being members of a terrorist group.

Only two of them applied for bail, which was declined on Wednesday.

Melbourne magistrate Reg Marron refused bail for Hany Taha, 31, and Abdulla Merhi, 20.

The remaining seven arrested in Melbourne made no bail application and were remanded in custody until January 31.

A senior Victorian police officer said more charges are likely, with authorities examining items seized in the raids, including chemicals, documents and computers.

“There is an immense amount of detail that we need to look at and so, we would say there is every likelihood that other charges would be laid,” said Noel Ashby, Victoria Police acting Deputy Commissioner.

Chemicals analysed

The Australian newspaper reported that police apparently believe chemicals seized in Tuesday’s raids in Sydney are the same as those used in July’s London bombings.

Clear liquid chemicals seized from a Lakemba home during the raids are believed to be ingredients of triacetone triperoxide (TATP), a powerful explosive used in the London terror attacks, the paper said.

AFP officers were tipped off in July by a Sydney chemical supplier that members of a suspected terrorist cell were trying to acquire the ingredients of the volatile explosive, the report said.

PM: ‘raids not anti-Muslim’

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Howard attempted to calm fears that Muslims were being unfairly targeted.

“This is not an anti-Muslim action,” he told the Seven Network.

“This is action being taken by the police because they believe the law has been broken.

“I say to my fellow Australians who are Muslims, you are part of our community, we value you, we want you to fully participate in Australian life.”

Arrests welcomed

Islamic leaders welcomed the arrests but said they feared the raids would spark renewed hatred of Muslims.

The Australian Arabic Council’s (AAC) secretary, Martin Hosking, called for restraint from the media and other commentators.

“We see the arrests as a step forward … in the sense that matters which have been bubbling along in the media are now firmly in the hands of the courts,” Mr Hosking said.

“Of course we, like all Australians, welcome these arrests if they can improve our security and we support the actions of the authorities in this regard.

“We need to remember there is a presumption of innocence and the final verdict will be delivered by the courts,” he said.

<!–Prominent Muslim leader Dr Ameer Ali plans to express concerns about new anti-terror laws when he meets senior government ministers on Wednesday.

The president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils said he believed Tuesday’s police raids showed that the current laws were strong enough.

“We have seen that the current set of laws are adequate enough and efficient in tackling a terrorist problem like this,” he told the Seven Network.–>

Anti-terrorism laws

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said the federal government’s tough new anti-terrorism laws cannot be applied retrospectively to the suspects arrested this week.

The government introduced the new laws to parliament last week.

But Mr Ruddock said police had not relied on the new laws before parliament — scheduled for debate in the House of Representatives on Thursday — before making the latest arrests.

ASIO claims

One of the men arrested in Melbourne, Muslim preacher Abdul Nacer Benbrika, also known as Abu Bakr, said he was once asked by ASIO to become an informant.

The 45-year-old dual Algerian and Australian citizen has been charged with directing the activities of a terrorist organisation.

In an interview recorded with the ABC five months ago, which first aired on Wednesday, Mr Benbrika claimed he was approached by the intelligence agency to become an informant.

“I think they ask me about people, do you know … some people who are going to Pakistan,” he said.

“I understood from them, it’s like, be a spy of us.

“I told them, you want me to be a spy for you, I said, people they go to Pakistan, not my business, it’s not my business.”

The preacher said he believed his trips overseas including to Algeria, Lebanon and Brunei, had caused authorities concern, but he had done nothing wrong.

Mr Benbrika has previously denied any involvement in terrorist activities, and rose to prominence in August when he declared support for Osama Bin Laden.

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