Two young Melbourne men suspected of having spiritual extremist motivations are facing terrorism charges over a fire and assault.
The 19-year-traditional and 20-year-traditional Epping men had been arrested along with a 16-year-traditional Pascoe Vale boy in separate joint counter-terrorism raids in Melbourne’s north on Wednesday.
The 19-year-traditional will appear sooner than Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday charged with an attempted terrorist act, intentionally causing harm, an act in preparation of a terrorist act and membership of a prescribed terrorist organisation (ISIS).
The 20-year-traditional is also due to appear sooner than Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday charged with one depend of an attempted terrorist act.
The 16-year-traditional boy was released with out charge.
The trio came to the attention of police after a fire in bushland about 30 minutes from Epping on February 18 and an assault in a public place in metropolitan Melbourne on March 10.
Investigators assume the incidents may have been motivated by Islamic “spiritual extremism”.
‘Violent extremist ideology’
Assistant Commissioner Scott Lee of the Australian Federal Police’s counter-terrorism and special investigations unit said the nature of fire, in particular, had stoked their suspicions.
“There is an ideology, and a violent extremist ideology, that has caused us challenge, and it’s as a end result of that ideology that we’re taking a discover at these incidents being related to a terrorism motivation,” he told journalists on Wednesday.
“There are certain aspects to the lighting of the fire that leads us to suspect it was a terrorism motivation.”
With all three suspects aged 20 or below, Mr Lee said counter-terrorism teams across the globe had been encountering a “younger and younger” demographic, with the COVID-19 pandemic pushing extra children on-line and exacerbating the direct.