The Joint Counter Terrorism Team arrested a 19-year-old Epping man police will allege attempted to engage in a terrorist act.
Assistant Commissioner Michael Hermans from Victoria Police Counter Terrorism Command said the alleged offences were based on religious ideology.
“It is Islamic – but let me make it clear, we target the crime – not the ideology,” he said.
Allegations of the threats being made relate to two incidents including a fire on February 18 and another on March 10.
Allegations of the threats being made relate to two incidents including a fire on February 18 and an assault on March 10.
“The circumstances of those two incidents have been investigated to determine the extent to which they may or may not lead to terrorism charges,” Assistant Commissioner Hermans said.
The fire was within approximately 30 minutes from the Epping area and the assault occurred in metropolitan Melbourne.
Assistant Commissioner Hermans alleged both incidents were motivated attacks.
“Without going into extensive detail, there is ideology that makes us believe it is linked to extremist activity.”
After initial inquiries, the serious nature of the offences became obvious and investigators believed a more serious investigation was required, which lead it to progress to the counter-terrorism unit.
“We received information that their ideology would be of concern to the Victorian community and as a result of that we conducted an investigation against one person of interest which lead us to the three that were arrested today.”
Charges could relate to attempted terrorism or acts in preparation of terrorism but they would not become clear until after the interview process.
Assistant Commissioner Hermans confirmed the March 10 assault was on a single person, not a group.
Assistant Commissioner Scott Lee of AFP Counter Terrorism and Special Investigations Scott Lee said counter-terrorism operations regularly came across younger people.
“It is a phenomenon we see regularly now in counter-terrorism investigations, regardless of the ideology.
“We have people, younger and younger in our community, where we are taking police action in relation to them,” he said.
Assistant Commissioner Lee said constantly being online contributed to the “phenomenon”.
“There is a range of factors but one that cannot be underestimated is the magnification of the online environment and what that means for the radicalisation of these individuals.
“That is certainly what we have seen in the COVID period, as people come out into the physical world after being isolated and driven into the online environment to a degree.
Authorities say there is no threat to the community and the arrests made today were at an early stage in the operation.