Three arrested in Melbourne; terrorism offences suspected

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Three young men have been arrested during terror raids in Melbourne’s north. The trio, aged 16, 19 and 20, were arrested after raids at Epping and Pascoe Vale on Thursday morning.

It will be alleged the 19-year-old Epping man attempted to engage in a terrorist act, Victoria Police said.He is being interviewed in relation to suspected terrorism offences.

“It‘s religious based ideology,” Victoria Police Counter Terrorism Command assistant commissioner Michael Hermans said. He said it would be alleged it was motivated by Islamic extremism.

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“We received information that suggested their ideology would be of concern to the Victorian community,” Assistant Commissioner Hermans said.

The trio came to investigators’ attention while investigating a fire in February and an assault in March. Police came to suspect the alleged incidents could have been motivated by extremist ideology.

“Those initial inquiries led us to believe that perhaps the investigation was more serious,” Assistant Commissioner Hermans said.

Once that link was made, a joint counter-terrorism team involving Victoria Police, the Australian Federal Police, and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation took over the matter.

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The 20-year-old man also from Epping remains in custody and the 16-year-old Pascoe Vale youth has been released pending further inquiries.

The men in custody could face terrorism-related charges, police said.

The 16-year-old who was released will be offered support to “hopefully divert him away from the activity that saw him come to our attention this morning”, Assistant Commissioner Hermans said.