The young men allegedly planning to attack police and bystanders in Melbourne on Anzac Day have been linked to Islamic State's most senior Australian fighter.
Security will be stepped up at Anzac Day services around Australia on Saturday after security forces foiled an alleged terror plot to attack police and the public with knives and swords at a commemorative event in Melbourne.
It's been revealed ringleaders of the plot were in regular contact with Islamic State's top Australian member Melbourne man Neil Prakash, The Australian reports.
Three of the five men arrested in Saturday's raids have been released, while one man was charged and another is being held on a preventative detention order.
Victorian police yesterday continued to question an 18-year-old male, one of five teenagers arrested in co-ordinated pre-dawn raids by more than 200 heavily armed state and federal officers on homes in southeastern Melbourne early on Saturday.
Sevdet Besim, 18, has already been charged with conspiring to commit Isis-inspired terrorist acts. All five men, aged 18 and 19, were associates of Abdul Numan Haider, the Melbourne teenager shot dead by police last September after he stabbed two officers outside a police station.
Security forces believe they were planning to use "edged weapons" to attack people at a Melbourne Anzac Day event. The acting Victorian Police Commissioner, Tim Cartwight, said multiple knives and swords were seized in the raids, executed across three suburbs at 3.30am.
Although the alleged plot centred on Melbourne, Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised a strong police presence in all the state capital cities on Saturday. In Britain, meanwhile, police said they were reviewing security arrangements for their own Anzac Day commemorations following the Australian arrests.
Meanwhile, New Zealand has no immediate plans to tighten security measures across local shopping centres and cinemas following a warning the nation was a "sitting duck" for a terror attack.
In the wake of New Zealand joining the war on Islamic State and Security Intelligence Service boss Rebecca Kitteridge confirming New Zealand was at increased risk of a terrorist attack, security expert Bridgette Sullivan-Taylor said New Zealand urgently needed a major domestic security overhaul.
She spoke as Australian counter-terrorism police yesterday arrested five people in Melbourne over an alleged Anzac Day terror plot.
Abbott, who was briefed about the impending raids at midnight on Friday, urged Australians to turn out in force to mark the 100th anniversary of the fateful Gallipoli landings.
"The best thing you can do in the face of those who would do us harm is to live your life normally," he said. "Turn out in the largest possible numbers to support our country, to support our values and to support our armed forces."
Besim, who appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Saturday, has been remanded in custody until this Friday. Police have invoked special anti-terrorism powers enabling them to continue holding a second man without charge. A third man has been released but will be charged with weapons offences on summons, police said yesterday. The other two have also been released, pending further inquiries.
Like Haider, an Afghan-Australian who is suspected of planning to behead the two officers he attacked, all five teenagers have reportedly frequented the radical Al-Furqan Islamic Information Centre in the suburb of Springvale South, close to their homes.
The centre, comprising a bookshop and prayer room, is presided over by a firebrand cleric, Harun Mehicevic, and has been a focus of police attention since 2012. It has been linked to a number of Australian terror suspects and jihadi fighters.
More than 50,000 people are expected to attend the dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance in central Melbourne on Saturday, while 100,000 will watch the traditional Anzac Day Essendon v Collingwood AFL match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
According to Melbourne's Sunday Herald-Sun, one of the five suspects picked up in the raids was 19-year-old Aboriginal man Eathan Cruse, who converted to Islam 18 months ago.
Officers from the domestic intelligence agency ASIO reportedly visited Cruse's family last year - and the families of some of the other teenagers - to warn them about his involvement with a known Isis (Islamic State) recruiter who is believed to have groomed Haider.
The Sunday Herald-Sun named the other three men as Harun Causevic, 18, Ismail Safi, 19, and Mehran Azami, 18. It reported police in black paramilitary uniforms and armed with automatic weapons smashed their way into homes in the suburbs of Hallam, Hampton Park and Narre Warren. Capsicum spray was used against one of the men, Cartwright said yesterday, and three of them were injured during the raids.
The Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, assured the public yesterday that state and federal police, together with security agencies, were putting in place "the best possible arrangements to ... keep Victorians safe" on Anzac Day.
- additional reporting AAP