Mark Morri, Janet Fife-Yeomans, Taylor Auerbach, Leigh van den Broeke, Sarah Crawford
The Daily Telegraph
October 7 2015
ALL of the homes raided by counter-terrorism officers today were also targeted during last September’s Operation Appleby, which was launched to investigate the plot to behead a member of the public in Sydney.
Five people were arrested at dawn in four separate raids in Sydney’s suburbs, including a 16-year-old schoolmate of Farhad Jabar, the teen terrorist who murdered police worker Curtis Cheng on Friday.
More than 200 armed officers stormed four homes in Bursill St, Guildford; Lane St, Wentworthville; Lockwood Street, Merrylands; and Booth Street, Marsfield, at 6am.
It is believed at least one of the men picked up is an associate of terror suspect Omarjan Azari who was arrested during Operation Appleby.
Statue of Virgin Mary smashed and desecrated at Maronite Christian Church in Sydney's Occupied Territories.
At a lunchtime press conference, Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn confirmed all of the addresses targeted were the same as last year but denied police had taken their eye off the ball.
“We know some of the people we are now interested in are people that have come under notice previously in relation to Operation Appleby,” she said.
But it was a ‘sad reality’ that police couldn’t be everywhere at all time.
Today’s raids were a direct result of Friday’s murder out the front of police headquarters and had not been in the planning before the terror attack.
“This is a clear indication of our determination to actually find out who murdered Curtis Cheng and to take all necessary action that we possibly can,” she said.
“It’s a very, very serious concern that in the heart of our community there is attack planning that is under way and that may have led to what we saw on Friday.”
Cheng, a 58-year-old father of two, was shot dead at 4.30pm as he left Parramatta police HQ with a single bullet from a .38 Smith and Wesson that Jabar is now believed to have been given at the local mosque.
Federal police have thwarted a number of terror attacks across the country since September last year, AFP Acting Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan said.
“We have disrupted six attacks (and) we have a large number of persons of interest across the country and we have a large number of persons on the periphery of those investigations that we clearly cannot monitor 24/7,” he said.
“This is not just an issue for the NSW police and Australian Federal Police. This is an issue for every law enforcement agency in this country as well as all our intelligence communities.”
Ms Burn confirmed the teen gunman had not been in the sights of NSW Police ahead of the attack but said they were confident he had not acted alone.
“The 15-year-old deceased has not been a target of ours and is not somebody we would have assessed as a threat,” she said.
She refused to speculate on his motives.
The five people arrested today were located in:
* Wentworthville - Two brothers aged 16 and 18.
* Merrylands - Two men aged 22 and 24, one on an unrelated fraud charge.
* Marsfield - One 22-year-old man.
Karen Smith, 57, in Wentworthville, said she woke to the yells of counter terrorism officers at 5am.
“They were yelling — ‘there’s a warrant, don’t move, everyone get out, don’t resist’,” she said.
“They were taking people out one by one.”
She said of her neighbours: “I’ve never had any problem with them at all, the boys are always polite. I think it’s a real shame that the world has come to this.”
In Marsfield, Derek Archer, 52, lives opposite the house which was raided and woke up to the noise of the police raid.
“I just woke up to some large shouting similar to 12 months ago, just ‘get down, get down’,” he said.
“We didn’t open the door this time or anything like that, just had a look out the window.”
In Merrylands, a woman dressed in a pink chador lashed out at the media before entering the house raided by officers.
Later, eggs were thrown at reporters standing outside.
In Guildford, counter-terrorism detectives removed a number of large bags of evidence from the family home of terror suspect Azari.