Counter-terrorism police arrest schoolboys in Sydney over 'beheading plot'

By Syndey, Brenden Hills, Sarah Crawford of the Daily Telegraph, Laura Banks, Mark Morri

A teen is detained in Bankstown after police swooped to prevent an alleged terror attack. Photo / Seven News
A teen is detained in Bankstown after police swooped to prevent an alleged terror attack. Photo / Seven News

One of two schoolboys ­arrested yesterday as they were allegedly preparing to behead someone in Sydney's southwest is the son of a convicted terrorist.

Police swooped on the 16-year-olds in a laneway behind a Bankstown mosque about midday, hours after the pair allegedly bought two bayonets at a gun shop.

Police arrest a teen in Bankstown over an alleged plot to behead a member of the public. Photo / Seven News
Police arrest a teen in Bankstown over an alleged plot to behead a member of the public. Photo / Seven News

The threat of an attack was considered imminent and police wearing protective vests descended on the prayer hall after officers received information about the alleged purchase of the knives.

Police block off the laneway behind Fetherstone St following the arrest of the two 17-year-old boys. Photo / News Corp Australia
Police block off the laneway behind Fetherstone St following the arrest of the two 17-year-old boys. Photo / News Corp Australia

The pair allegedly also had pieces of paper with religious statements written on them that were to be read out while they carried out a beheading. It is understood police were examining the documents to see if they contained information on who was to be targeted in the beheading.

Police said speculation the pair were heading for nearby Bankstown police station had not been established.

One boy was known to counter-terrorism police as a teenage radical after he gained notoriety when he refused to stand for the national anthem as a schoolboy at East Hills High School last year.

The teen is led away by police to be taken to Bankstown Police Station. Photo / 7 News
The teen is led away by police to be taken to Bankstown Police Station. Photo / 7 News

His home was raided during the September 2014 Operation Appleby raids, Australia's largest counter-terrorism operation to date.

The boy's father has been convicted on terror-related offences.

One of the boys, from Greenacre, is being represented by leading criminal lawyer Omar Juweinat, who was last night with his client.

"This is a sensitive time, not only politically but also for this young man's family who are shocked to hear about their son's arrest," he said.

"Where are my brothers?" ... Mohammad Junaid Thorne's words as he approached police after the boys were detained. Photo / News Corp Australia
"Where are my brothers?" ... Mohammad Junaid Thorne's words as he approached police after the boys were detained. Photo / News Corp Australia

He would not comment on the allegations being made against his client.

It is understood that the arrests came as part of a continuing counter-terrorism investigation.

Police speak with one of the teen terror suspects. Photo / Channel 7
Police speak with one of the teen terror suspects. Photo / Channel 7

In a bizarre twist, soon after the arrests radical Muslim preacher Junaid Thorne appeared in the street and demanded police tell him, "Where are my brothers?"

Thorne, 27, is a known political radical who spent four months in Goulburn's Supermax jail last year for trying to evade counter-terrorism authorities by flying from Perth to Sydney using a false name.

Outside Bankstown police station, a family member of one of the boys queried whether the pair had been armed with knives.

The second boy is arrested at the scene. Photo / Channel 7
The second boy is arrested at the scene. Photo / Channel 7

The 17-year-old, who was accompanied by his mother, said the family had not yet been allowed to see his sibling.

"I don't know if they had knives, that's what they're claiming, but we're trying to confirm," the boy said. "It's a very hard time for us."

One of the accused is linked on social media to another well-known political extremist, Wissam Haddad.

- Daily Telegraph Sydney

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