SYDNEY: Australian officials said Monday they were aware of 12 men or boys in the community who they believe could commit an act of terror, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull convened a national security meeting.
Canberra has become increasingly concerned about the prospect of lone-wolf attacks by individuals inspired by groups such as Islamic State, and a tightening of counter-terrorism laws is underway.
Six attacks in Australia have been foiled over the past year, according to the government. But several have not, including a police employee shot dead in Sydney last month by a 15-year-old reportedly shouting religious slogans.
The Australian Federal Police’s counter-terrorism chief Neil Gaughan told ABC television that a group of 12 men or boys capable of committing an act of terror were being closely watched.
“I think there can be no doubt that there’s a small group in Sydney that are engaged in activity which wants to upset the Australian way of life,” he said.
The national broadcaster said the 12 were part of a larger group of 19, seven of whom were in prison.
Some of those under surveillance were subject to orders controlling their movements and communications because police believed there was an “unacceptable, high risk they will commit a terrorist attack”, Gaughan added.