Sydney (10 Dec 2015): A 15-year-old boy, among a group of five people charged by counter-terrorism police following raids in Sydney, is a student at Bass High School, in Bass Hill in Sydney’s west, the ABC understands.
Police have alleged the teenager and a 20-year-old man are associates of those responsible for the murder of New South Wales Police employee Curtis Cheng.
The pair were arrested this morning after Australian Federal Police (AFP) and New South Wales Police carried out the raids as part of Operation Appleby.
Another three people — men aged 21, 22 and 22 — were charged this afternoon.
Each member of the group has been charged with conspiracy to conduct an act in preparation for a terrorist act.
It is believed the Department of Education contacted law enforcement agencies to discuss a concern that the 15-year-old boy was radicalising other students within his school.
A spokesperson for New South Wales Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said his office was made aware of the student’s arrest.
The Education Department is working closely with the school.
The 20-year-old is Ibrahim Ghazzawy from Raby. The teenager cannot be named for legal reasons but is from Georges Hall.
One of the 22-year-old men was scheduled to appear before Sydney Central Local Court this afternoon while the other 22-year-old man and the 21-year-old man were refused bail and scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.
AFP Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said painstaking analysis of documents seized in December 2014 raids led to the charges.
He said the documents mentioned the AFP headquarters.
“The planning documents were evolving. There’s one mention of AFP building but they get the address wrong,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner Phelan said the charges related to activity when the teenager was 14.
He said police did not believe the plot was motivated by a directive from Islamic State (IS) militants.
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Cath Burn added: “He was a part of the conspiracy, so in terms of the preparation and planning with the material that was being presented, we don’t know exactly what his role would have been.”
She said she was not aware of a link between the teenager and Farhad Jabar Khalil Mohammad, the 15-year-old who shot and killed Mr Cheng earlier this year before being killed in a shootout with police.
“I am not aware of a direct connection between the two 15-year-olds, however, the people who were involved with the murder of Curtis Cheng are associates of these people,” Deputy Commissioner Burn said.
“We conducted search warrants last year on December 18 and we put people before the court on December 23 — and this is related to that particular matter.
“Some of the people we’re charging today faced court on December 23.”
Police said there was no new threat.
Deputy Commissioner Burn said police had had a lot of contact with the boy’s school in a bid to “prevent radicalisation before it gets to the point where people decide to act it out in violence”.
“A lot of the people we are dealing with … are clearly radicalised to the point of talking about and acting out with violence,” she said.
“How they’ve become radicalised we don’t actually know. We don’t know how the 15-year-old has got to the point where we will allege he got.”
There were also raids made in Bankstown, Wiley Park and Merrylands this morning.
Operation Appleby is aimed at detecting and preventing terrorist attacks on Australian soil.
In last year’s raids, 15 people were arrested. An alleged plot to kidnap and behead a member of the public was uncovered as part of that operation. (Source ABC News).