A man was arrested in counterterror raids in Australia on Tuesday, with police alleging he was sending money to a US jihadist fighting with a militant group in Syria.
The arrest comes days after a terror suspect was shot dead in Melbourne after stabbing two police officers, and amid concerns about Australians fighting alongside jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
“A 23-year-old man… will be charged with intentionally making funds available to a terrorist organisation,” Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan said.
Gaughan said the man, who has not yet been named, had already transferred about Aus$12,000 (US$10,500) to a US citizen who travelled to Syria to fight.
He said the arrest had been triggered by the belief that the man was allegedly preparing to send more funds.
Police stressed there was no information or intelligence to indicate the man was involved in planning an attack in Australia, or linked in any way to the terror suspect killed last week.
Abdul Numan Haider, 18, was shot dead as he carried out a frenzied knife attack on two policemen, one day after the Islamic State group called for Muslims to indiscriminately kill Australians.
The incidents followed Australia raising its terror alert to “high” and after the government had repeatedly expressed concerns about citizens who have fought alongside jihadists in Iraq and Syria returning home radicalised and capable of carrying out attacks.
Canberra has said that more than 60 Australians are already involved in these conflicts, while about 100 are supporting the jihadists from Australia.
Tuesday’s operation involved more than 100 police raiding seven locations in suburban Melbourne, the culmination of an eight-month investigation initiated on a tip-off from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, police said.
The search warrants were mostly executed to gather evidence against the man arrested, they said.
The raids follow some in Sydney and Brisbane earlier this month by more than 800 police to disrupt plans by jihadists to carry out “demonstration executions” on members of the public.
Victoria state police deputy commissioner Graham Ashton said because Tuesday’s operation related to terror financing, there was no direct threat to the public.
“We will be acting sooner rather than later if we detect any threat to the community,” Ashton said.