A Sydney teenager’s alleged Anzac Day terror plot has been thwarted after police swooped on the 16-year-old on the eve of commemorations.
The boy is set to spend his second evening in custody on Monday, accused of trying to source a gun in the days leading up to April 25 in preparation for a terrorist act.
Officers from the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team arrested the teenager near his Auburn home in Sydney’s west on Sunday, as many Australians were preparing to mark the 101st anniversary of Anzac forces landing at Gallipoli.
He was charged with one count of acts in preparation or planning for a terrorist act, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Police suspect the teenager was acting alone.
“At this stage we believe it was one person by himself,” NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione told a media conference shortly after the dawn service ceremony at Sydney’s Martin Place on Monday.
“The risk from this particular threat has been thwarted.”
The arrest was announced shortly before the start of the dawn service, but police have not revealed further details of the alleged plot.
Court documents show the Australian-born teenager is accused of trying to obtain a firearm between April 23 and 24 in preparation for a terrorist act.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insists Australians are safe despite the alleged plot.
“We are a very strong and resilient country, inspired by the Anzac spirit,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Monday.
“We take great care in ensuring that Australians are safe at all times and on every day.”
Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the scenario was chilling.
“Unfortunately this is part of a pattern that we have been observing where younger and younger people are targeted and incited to go and commit an act of terror,” he told reporters in Perth.
It’s the second year in a row a teenager has been arrested and accused of planning Anzac Day attacks.
A 19-year-old was arrested in 2015 in Melbourne over an alleged plot to behead a police officer.
Both Mr Keenan and Mr Scipione, as well as NSW Premier Mike Baird, urged Australians not to let the events stop them from taking part in Anzac Day commemorations.
The teenager is expected to make an application for bail in the Parramatta Children’s Court on Tuesday.
He was due to face the court on Monday but the case was adjourned.