Trio Charged Over Alleged Terror Plot To 'Kill As Many As Possible'
Three men have been charged in Melbourne over allegations they were trying to secure a semi-automatic rifle to carry out an attack in a crowded place to kill "as many people as possible."
Counter-terrorism officers carried out a series of raids in Melbourne's north-western suburbs early on Tuesday morning.
A 30-year-old man from Dallas, a 26-year-old man from Campbellfield and a 21-year-old man from Greenvale have been charged and are fronting court accused of undertaking preparations for planning a terrorist attack.
The three men, two of whom are believed to be brothers, are Australian nationals of Turkish backgrounds.
Police will allege the group's terrifying plan was "inspired by ISIS" to target a "crowded place" with the potential for "maximum" human casualties.
"We didn't have a specific location," Victoria Police commissioner Graham Ashton said.
"What we do know from the evidence gathered.. was that they were certainly looking at a place of mass gathering, where there would be crowds, because they were trying to focus on trying to have a place where they could kill as many people as possible."
Police believe in recent days the group attempted to source a semi-automatic rifle to assist with carrying out their attack.
"Certainly in the last week they've become energised about doing something more quickly," Ashton said.
Police say all three of their passports were cancelled earlier this year, but the group have no prior criminal record, apart from one count in 2007 of failing to display L-plates.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney said their passports were cancelled because of concerns that the group would travel to the conflict zone to be involved in terrorist activities.
The raids wrapped up an eight month investigation, with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews praising police and counter-terrorism officers for their efforts.
"The seriousness of this potential incident should not be underestimated and we can congratulate and we are very grateful - all of us, as Victorians - for the work that have been done," Andrews said.
The men were arrested at three separate properties, with a fourth property also searched at Coolaroo.
Victoria Police, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) were all involved in the operation.
Police say the threat has been contained and there is no ongoing threat to the community.
Featured photo: AAP