Raids thwart beheading plot
SYDNEY (AP): Police yesterday said they thwarted a plot to carry out beheadings in Australia by supporters of the radical Islamic State group. They raided more than a dozen properties across Sydney and were holding six people and have identified the suspected ringleader, officials said.
Nine other people were detained but were freed before the day was over.
The raids, involving 800 federal and state police officers, the largest in the country's history, came in response to intelligence that an Islamic State group leader in the Middle East was calling on Australian supporters to kill, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.
Abbott was asked about reports that the detainees were planning to behead a random person in Sydney.
"That's the intelligence we received," he told reporters. "The exhortations, quite direct exhortations, were coming from an Australian, who is apparently quite senior in ISIL, to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country."
ISIL refers to the al-Qaida splinter group leading Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which now calls itself simply Islamic State.
"This is not just suspicion, this is intent and that's why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have," Abbott said.
New South Wales police did not say why nine of the detained people were released, or whether they would face charges later.