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Australia steps up security after reported ISIS plot to attack

Australia steps up security after reported ISIS plot to attack

The Islamic State plot to carry out random beheadings in Sydney alleged by police is a simple and barbaric scheme that has shaken Australians. But terrorism experts on Friday questioned whether the ruthless movement had the capacity or inclination to sustain a terror campaign so far from the Middle East.

Police said they thwarted a plot to carry out beheadings in Australia by Islamic State group supporters after raiding more than a dozen properties across Sydney on Thursday.

Islamic State has beheaded three Westerners in the Middle East in recent weeks, recording the brutal slayings to make propaganda videos that have attracted widespread condemnation.

Two of the 15 suspects detained by police were charged on Thursday, officials said. Nine others were freed before the day was over.

But police wouldn't say how many remained in custody on Friday as the investigation continues.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott conceded it was difficult to safeguard the Australian population against such attacks.

"The regrettable reality is that to mount the kind of attacks which ISIL in Syria and in Iraq has in mind for Australia, all you need is a determined individual who will kill without compunction, a knife, an iPhone and a victim," Abbott told Seven Network television on Friday, using one of Islamic State's former names, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Some terrorism experts saw the plot as a potential shift in Islamic State's focus from creating an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East. Others said it is more likely a symptom of policy confusion within a disparate group.

"If you have people coming in from different backgrounds from all these countries, when it comes to policy making, they're going to fight each other, they're going to kill each other," said Samuel Makinda, professor of International Relations and Security Studies at Murdoch University.

"On ISIS, I see no direct threat to Australia or to any other country at the moment except those in the Middle East," he added, using the movement's former name, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The raids involving 800 federal and state police officers came in response to intelligence that an Islamic State group leader in Syria was calling on Australian supporters to kill, Abbott said.

Hundreds of Muslims in the Sydney suburb of Lakemba protested the raids on Thursday night, with speakers accusing the government of exploiting public fear in a bid to get contentious counterterrorism laws through Parliament.

Abbott defended the raids against accusations of overkill.

"It was a show of strength," Abbott told reporters. "It needed to be a show of strength. It needed to be a demonstration that we will respond with strength to any threat to our way of life and to our national security."

Abbott said armed police were taking over security at Parliament House in Canberra, because Australian Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria had been urging their supporters at home to attack the building and government members.

With national grand finals approaching in Rugby League and Australian Rules Football — among the country's most popular sports — police have said security will be boosted at sports arenas and other public venues attracting large numbers of people.

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EuropeNepal.Net: Australia steps up security after reported ISIS plot to attack
Australia steps up security after reported ISIS plot to attack
Australia steps up security after reported ISIS plot to attack
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