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Byron Shire
December 1, 2021

Police defend tinnie terror plot arrests

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Flag of the Islamic State
Flag of the Islamic State

Authorities have defended the decision to stop five men who allegedly planned to slip out of Australia in a fishing boat in order to join Islamic State.

The Melbourne men are facing possible charges under Australia’s counter-terrorism laws after they were captured near Cairns on Tuesday towing a seven-metre fishing boat en route to Cape York in far north Queensland.

It’s believed they were planning to travel to Indonesia, then to the Philippines and on to Syria.

On Wednesday, Victoria Police deputy commissioner Shane Patton explained the decision to stop the group leaving Australia, warning of the risk if they returned combat hardened and radicalised.

‘I know there’d be people sitting at home saying ‘why don’t you simply just let them go and take their chance in the waves and fighting in Syria’,’ he said in Melbourne.

‘We have a requirement to ensure that people can’t get offshore to go and fight in other countries, can’t get offshore to become hardened terrorists and come back here and pose a risk.’

Believed to be among the group is notorious Islamic preacher Musa Cerantonio, as well as Shayden Thorne, the brother of hardline Islamist preacher Junaid Thorne.

The men had been under surveillance for weeks, and all have had their passports cancelled.

At least some were on terror watch lists.
Shayden Thorne was sentenced by a Saudi court in 2013 to four-and-a-half years in prison on charges including supporting and encouraging terrorism, but was granted clemency in 2014 and deported to Australia.

Cerantonio is considered by authorities to be influential among would-be foreign fighters

He was arrested in the Philippines in 2014 after saying he was en route to Syria, and has since kept a relatively low profile since his deportation.

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