Two western Sydney friends who were arrested by police just hours before they were allegedly going to commit a terrorist act on Tuesday were not on any police radars or intelligence watchlists.
Omar Al-Kutobi, 24, and Mohammad Kiad, 25, only came to the attention of authorities at 3pm on Tuesday when they bought a hunting knife from a Smithfield supplies store, allegedly to use in an Islamic State-inspired attack that night, Fairfax Media understands.
Police received a tip-off and stormed the pair’s Fairfield granny flat an hour later, seizing the hunting knife, a machete, a homemade Islamic State flag and a video filmed by Mr Kiad, allegedly showing Mr Al-Kutobi vowing in Arabic to attack “today”.
He was holding both weapons and kneeling in front of a roughly-cut piece of black material that the men had painted on themselves, Fairfax has been told.
“This was an imminent attack in Australia inspired by the ISIL or Da’esh death cult,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in Parliament on Wednesday, referring to the so-called Islamic State.
“This is a serious problem and I fear … it will get worse before it gets better. As we have seen again and again in recent times, the death cult is reaching out all around the world including in Australia.”
Terrorism experts have warned that such “lone wolf” plots are becoming almost impossible to detect and police are relying on random tip-offs from the public but their luck will soon run out.
“The concerning thing about this clearly is that this represents the nature of the environment that we currently face,” NSW Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said on Wednesday. “This is indicative of the threat we now have to live with.”
SOURCE: Rachel Olding and Paul Bibby
Sydney Morning Herald