An alleged would-be terrorist reportedly shared graphic war scene videos and downloaded a guide on how to attack people with knives and other weapons just hours before his dramatic arrest.
Youssef Uweinat posted the alarming content to his Instagram stories shortly before the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team showed up at his Riverwood home, in Western Sydney, on Wednesday, The Australian reported.
The 21-year-old was arrested in the morning and taken to Bankstown Police Station where he was charged with three terrorism offences including planning for terrorist acts, membership of a terrorist organisation, and advocating terrorism.
He was refused bail to appear at Parramatta Local Court on Thursday. If found guilty, he will be sentenced to life in prison.
The night before his arrest, Mr Uweinat posted a quote from Anwar al-Awlaki – a slain Islamic supporter who had ties to al-Qa’ida, Rge Australian reported.
Police said the man had, over the past six months, posted increasingly extremist material online and sought to convince others, particularly teenagers aged 17 and 18, to pledge allegiance to IS.
Among his disturbing posts to social media were speeches from radical leaders, including al-Awlaki, and a concerning video about the “souls of 300 Muslims” “taken” in Baghouz, Syria this year, with a watermark saying “Soldiers of the Khilafah”, The Australian reported.
In the caption below the video he wrote: “While you spend the nights clubbing and drinking, trying to be cool infront (sic) of your mates, your brothers and sisters are spending there (sic) nights being burnt alive and being bombed. Where are the lions who will stand up and defend their religion?”.
Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Ian McCartney says the man's activity was exclusively online.
He'd not yet established a specific target and did not provide an immediate threat.
“We decided to act early because we needed to – we were concerned,” Mr McCartney told reporters in Sydney.
“It's fair to say there was a continuum in terms of radicalisation and we were getting concerned that continuum was increasing ... (to) radicalisation to the point of encouraging politically-motivated violence.”
Authorities say the 21-year-old was connected to others previously charged with terrorism offences in Australia.
Mr McCartney on Wednesday said authorities had relied upon 2018 cybersecurity legislation to access the man's encrypted communications.
A terror attack in the United Kingdom last week – during which two people were fatally stabbed on London Bridge – was "not a key factor" in Wednesday's arrest but prompted authorities to keep a keen eye on the accused, the assistant commissioner said
“When there's a terrorist act committed in another country that generates significant media attention we're always concerned what impact that will have on people in Australia, in terms of that radicalisation continuum.”
Additional arrests are not anticipated.
The man has been refused bail to appear in the Parramatta Local Court on Thursday.
“The activity today is a reminder to all Australians that this threat hasn't gone away,” Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told reporters in Canberra.
“As we saw in London very recently, people want to do harm in a country like ours and the UK.”
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