A man from the NSW South Coast has been charged with terrorism offences following a NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) investigation.
The 21-year-old Sanctuary Point man was arrested on Saturday (14 March 2020), and charged with one count of acts done in preparation for, or planning, terrorist acts. This offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The Sanctuary Point man is expected to face Nowra Local Court today (Monday 16 March 2020), and an application will be made to have the matter heard in a Sydney court at a later date.
It will be alleged in court that the man was attempting and planning to purchase or acquire military equipment, including firearms, and items capable of making improvised explosive devices.
The investigation began in February 2020 after NSW JCTT investigators became aware of a number of online posts containing an extreme political and anti-government ideology and began an investigation into potential criminal activity.
Investigators became concerned about the escalating criminal actions allegedly undertaken by the 21-year-old man in the past week and made the decision to execute search warrants on properties and vehicles in Sanctuary Point and the rural locality of Parma – both near the NSW South Coast town of Nowra – at the weekend.
A number of electronic devices, tactical equipment and three soft gel (paintball) firearms were seized at Sanctuary Point. Four registered firearms were seized at the Parma residence, which is the home of an associate of the 21-year-old man. Further inquiries are continuing into the links between the man facing court today and his online and real-world associates.
Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Counter Terrorism Scott Lee said NSW JCTT investigators targeted the criminal behaviour of those arrested.
“The decision to execute these warrants and charge a man was made to mitigate any immediate threat, ensure the ongoing safety of the community and prevent further planning or preparations that could have resulted in a terrorist attack in Australia,” he said.
“The investigation into this matter remains ongoing, but the speed with which it has progressed highlights the professionalism and dedication of the individuals and agencies involved in the JCTT, and their commitment to bringing people to account for their criminal actions.”
NSW Police Force Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton, said the primary concern of NSW JCTT officers was community safety.
“Our officers have acted swiftly in this case as the behaviour online was of significant concern. I want to reassure the community that there is no ongoing threat, and the NSW JCTT will continue to work together to identify and prosecute individuals involved in these activities,” he said.
“I would appeal to all members of the community to help us do this – if you see something online, report it. Be aware of the online activities of your children. There is no place for violent extremism in our community and we need to continue to unite in condemning this behaviour.”
The NSW JCTT is comprised of members from the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police Force, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the NSW Crime Commission.
Anyone with information about extremist activity or possible threats to the community should come forward, no matter how small or insignificant you may think the information may be. The National Security Hotline is 1800 123 400.