Man arrested in Melbourne terror raids faces court

A man arrested in counter-terrorism raids accused of providing $12,000 to a US citizen fighting in Syria has been remanded in custody after facing court for the first time.

The 23-year-old Seabrook man, who is believed to be of Lebanese origin, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday afternoon, charged with intentionally making funds available to a terrorist organisation.


The prosecution was granted more time to prepare its brief of evidence against El Sabsabi because of the volume of material, a lot of which needed to be transcribed and in some cases translated.

"A substantial amount of material will be sourced from overseas," Mr Doyle told the court.

El Sabsabi's lawyer Trieu Huynh asked for El Sabsabi to be transferred from the Melbourne Custody Centre to the Melbourne Assessment Prison as soon as possible.

"Given the nature of the charges (and) it's his first time in custody, it's extremely onerous on him," he said.

He also asked for a doctor to examine his client as soon as possible for his medical conditions, which Mr Huynh said he would not outline in open court.

Mr Muling granted the application for more time to prepare the brief of evidence.

Earlier, Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan said the man allegedly provided $12,000 in funds to support a US citizen fighting in Syria.

He told reporters further funds were about to be transferred.


Tuesday's counter-terrorism raids at seven locations in Melbourne were the culmination of an eight-month investigation based on information provided by the FBI, he said.

The man is being charged with intentionally providing funds to a proscribed terrorist group and is expected to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court later on Tuesday.

"He has funded someone to travel from the US to Syria and that person is actually fighting in Syria," Mr Gaughan told reporters.

The US citizen has been in Syria for a number of months, he said.

Mr Gaughan said it was the first known time an Australian citizen had funded someone to fight in Syria.

He said police conducted the raids on Tuesday because there was a concern the man was about to provide further funding.

"We believe at this stage the gentleman was operating by himself," Mr Gaughan said.

There was no intelligence that the man was planning an attack on Australian soil, Mr Gaughan said.

There were 100 AFP and Victoria Police members involved in the raids across five Melbourne suburbs: Seabrook, Kealba, Meadow Heights, Broadmeadows and Flemington.

Victoria Police deputy commissioner Graham Ashton said the joint investigation with the AFP was ongoing.

He said the raids in Melbourne were "low key" as the case related to terrorism financing and there was no direct threat to the public.

"We will be acting sooner rather than later if we detect any threat to the community," Mr Ashton said.

Police had been monitoring 18-year-old Numan Haider for a number of months before he was shot dead after stabbing police officers multiple times. Photo: 7News/The Age

Police say the raids are not related to last Tuesday's fatal police shooting of Melbourne terror suspect Numan Haider, after he stabbed two police officers outside the Endeavour Hills police station.

Mr Ashton said Haider's family received death threats in the days after his death, which was concerning.

The family of a teenage terror suspect shot dead at Endeavour Hills in Melbourne are shocked by what happened and want answers about how he became radicalised, police say. Photo: AAP

He stressed Haider's family had nothing to do with the incident involving the 18-year-old.

"Family, particularly the parents of the young man, received death threats over the weekend," he told reporters.

"This is an innocent family.

"I think the fact they received those deaths threats last week is very disappointing."

Police are collecting evidence to support their case against the man they arrested.

"We have seized a hell of a lot of electronic media," Mr Gaughan said.

The raids did not uncover any weapons or explosives in the seven homes, and no other people are suspected of wrongdoing.

The five Melbourne suburbs where dawn raids have been carried out.

"The search warrants that were executed on the other premises were to provide evidence in relation to the activities of the 23-year-old man that was arrested," Mr Gaughan said.

"There is no allegation at this stage that they were involved in any criminality."

The arrested man has no family relationship to the man who he allegedly funded to fight in Syria, and they met via social media.

"This is the first time in a terrorism environment that we're aware that an Australian citizen has sponsored, or paid for, a citizen of another country to go into Syria or Iraq to fight," Mr Gaughan said.

Aerial shots of one of the homes believed to have been raided as part of a joint AFP and Victoria Police counter-terror operation. Photo: 7News

Neighbours have told 7News that they are shocked and surprised by the arrest.

They say the man, Husain, worked at a pizza shop and described him as a friendly person.

They said he was newly married, and had lived in at the property since November.

The Victorian Premier expressed concern over reports a Muslim woman bashed and pushed from a moving train in a vicious racist attack.

"There is no place for that here in Melbourne and Victoria," Denis Napthine told 3AW.

"I would urge people to be more tolerant and to be more inclusive rather than to create division."