THREE men will be charged with committing a terrorist act after trying to burn down a mosque in Melbourne.
The trio is accused of setting fire to the Imam Ali Islamic Centre on Sunday, December 11, 2016 in an attack police say was designed to “intimidate and influence” members of the mosque and the wider Islamic community.
One of the men, a 29-year-old Meadow Heights man, was arrested in a vehicle stop at Roxburgh Park last night while the two others, aged 25 and 27, are already in custody.
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They are awaiting trial for allegedly planning a terrorist attack on or around Christmas Day last year.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said the trio would be formally charged with engaging in a Terrorist Act in relation to the mosque attack later today, contrary to section 101.1 of the Criminal Code Act (Cth).
In addition, the two men who are already in custody will also be charged with the same offence in relation to a second fire at the Imam Ali Islamic Centre on Friday 25 November 2016.
All three men face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
In a statement released on Sunday morning, AFP National Manager of Counter Terrorism, Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney said attacking a place of worship was a serious crime.
“It is clear that these arson attacks were designed to intimidate and influence those that attend this mosque and the wider Islamic community,” McCartney said. “These actions have no place in our society.”
“Individuals or groups who think they are above the law when it comes to this type of intimidation should think again.
“This operation is another example of the strength of the cooperation between agencies in the JCTT and the collaborative approach we take to investigating terrorism offences.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to keep all Australians safe.”
Victoria Police Counter Terrorism Command Assistant Commissioner Ross Guenther said this represents the high quality of effort delivered by the tri-agency set up in Melbourne.
“The partnership between Victoria Police, the AFP and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, which makes up the JCTT continues to achieve excellent results in protecting the Victorian community,” Mr Guenther said.
“Victoria Police is proud to serve a diverse multi-faith and multicultural community, and will not tolerate this kind of behaviour in our community.”