Officers from the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) have charged a 16-year-old male with a terrorism offence that police will allege was linked to ANZAC commemorations, NSW Police say.
The teenager was arrested yesterday near his Auburn home following an investigation by officers attached to Operation Vianden.
He was taken to Auburn Police Station, where he was charged with one count of Acts in preparation for, or planning, a Terrorist Act, contrary to Section 101.6 of the Criminal Code (Cth). This offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said JCTT officers were forced to act yesterday afternoon in order to ensure public safety.
“Clearly we have taken swift action to ensure community safety on the eve of a sacred day on the Australian calendar,” Commissioner Scipione said.
“I want to assure the NSW community that our counter terrorism capability is such that we were able to move quickly to prevent harm.
“The age of the individual is obviously a concern for us, and it remains a measure of the ongoing task facing law enforcement and the community.
“ANZAC Day should be observed by all in our community free from fear and I would encourage everyone to enjoy this special day,” he said.
AFP State Manager Sydney Office, Commander Chris Sheehan, said family and friends are vital when it comes to connecting with those young people who may be susceptible to carry out criminal acts that attract significant penalties.
“A cohesive society and social inclusion is critical in driving a counter-narrative to extremist ideology,” he said.
“Yesterday’s activity is another example of the effectiveness of the cooperative nature of the JCTT. We will disrupt to ensure the safety of the community, and follow that up with thorough investigations to identify criminal behavior.
“In Australia and around the world, the age of people radicalised is getting younger, with online grooming tactics similar to those used by sexual predators,” he said.
The 16-year-old was bail refused and will appear in a children’s court today tomorrow.
There will be no further comment from NSW Police Force at this stage. A media conference will be held this morning.