Terror raids backlash: ‘You’re cockroaches’
A woman in a burqa has lashed out outside the Melbourne home of a man arrested for suspected terrorist offences today, calling people "cockroaches" and blocking entry to the premises with her vehicle.
The angry scenes came after police swooped in on three Victorian men after they were caught allegedly preparing an Islamic State-inspired terrorist attack in Melbourne, which officers say was being planned to "kill as many people as possible".
Hanifi Halis, 21, of Greenvale, Ertunc Eriklioglu, 30, from Dallas, and Samed Eriklioglu, 26, of Campbellfield have all been charged with planning a terrorist attack.
The fracas occurred outside the Dallas home of Ertunc Eriklioglu on Tuesday morning. The woman, dressed in head-to-toe black religious garments, was asked on multiple occasions to remove her car from the front of the block as it was blocking police, the Daily Mail reported.
However, the irate resident repeatedly refused and at one point screamed, "You guys are cockroaches" at the of media outside the home.
The outburst came as the father of one of the three arrested said his sone's were "good men" and insisting they were innocent.
Samed and Ertunc's father Armagan Eriklioglu fronted the media and said the claims levelled against his family were "not true".
"They don't even know how to use a weapon," he said, according to The Age.
"They are very quiet, they're not wild, they're not aggressive. We haven't got no weapons, they (police) couldn't find anything."
All three of the men arrested are Australian citizens of Turkish background and police said their wives and children were home when they were arrested.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says a foiled terrorist attack in Melbourne proves federal parliament must pass new laws allowing police to access encrypted messaging systems, such as WhatsApp.
"The technology now has got ahead of where the law is and we are finding ourselves in a particular black spot where the police are blind to the telecommunications across these messaging apps," Mr Dutton told reporters in Sydney
Victoria Police confirmed today two of the men were brothers and all three of their Australian passports were cancelled earlier this year.
"It's our view that, while a specific location had not been finalised, there was a view towards a crowded place, a place where maximum people would be attending, to be able to kill, we allege, as maximum an amount of people as possible," Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton told reporters.
"I believe, over more recent days, attempts have been made to source a semiautomatic rifle to assist with the carrying out of that terrorism event."
Police also executed four warrants in the northwest in Melbourne, searching a property in Coolaroo.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney said the three men were facing life in prison.
"If we had not acted early in preventing this attack, we'll allege the consequences would have been chilling, with the potential, as the commissioner stated, with a potential significant loss of human life," he said.
The counter-terrorism team said while a specific location had not been decided on, police gathered enough evidence to be sure the attack would focus on "a place of mass gathering, where there would be crowds".
Mr Ashton said the inevitable crowds that come to Melbourne for Christmas and new year's were playing on investigators minds.
"We're getting to a busy time of the year as you know with a lot of mass gatherings occurring … as we start to head into Christmas time, there's places where mass gatherings occur, Christmas parties and that sort of thing," he said.
"That certainly, no doubt, would have played on the investigators' minds about locations as well. But we didn't have … a set location where that was occurring."
The AFP said 15 terror plots had been "disrupted" since 2014. Four plots foiled plots were described as "major".
Police allege the most recent attempt to execute a terror attack on Melbourne was "inspired" but not "directed" by IS.