(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Three men will be charged with committing terrorism over alleged arson attacks inspired by terror group ISIS in Iraq and Syria on a Melbourne Shia mosque last year, Australian police said on Sunday (Aug 20).
Two men aged 25 and 27 - already in custody over allegedly planning a terror attack on or around Christmas Day last year - will be charged over the fires at the Imam Ali (as) Islamic Center in November and December.
The third man, aged 29, was arrested late Saturday and will face the same charge of engaging in a terrorist act, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, for the December arson attack.
"We're not saying that these were just arson attacks, we're going to alleged that these were ISIS-inspired attacks," Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney told reporters in Melbourne.
"They were designed to influence and put fear into a particularly group in the community." Assistant Commissioner Ross Guenther, the chief of Victoria state police's counter-terrorism command, said investigators believed the center, which doubles as a place of worship, was targeted as it was Shia.
A view of the Imam Ali Islamic Center on Lowson Street in Fawkner, after an arson attack on December 11, 2016
All the three man will face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment over the attacks if convicted.
Australia is concerned about the threat of attacks in the country as nationals who had joined terror groups in the Middle East return home.
In late March 2017, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that hundreds of militants from Southeast Asia had been in the Middle East fighting for Daesh and could soon return to the region as the Takfiri group loses more territory to security forces fighting to take back land overrun by the outfit.
Daesh, which first emerged in the Middle East and later spread its activities to North Africa and Afghanistan, has been suffering heavy losses in Iraq and Syria, the two countries where it has been significantly active.
The Australian government has ratified a law criminalizing travel to Daesh strongholds, including those in Syria and Iraq. Individuals charged with the crime could face up to 10 years in prison.