Australia raids Islamic centre, arrests two for jihadist links

Australia raids Islamic centre, arrests two for jihadist links
Lebanese Army soldier Ibrahim Moustafa Shaaban, who was captured by Islamist militants in Arsal, is greeted upon his arrival in Al-Mohamara village after his release, in Akkar August 31, 2014. Islamist Nusra Front, a group linked to al Qaeda, on Saturday released four Sunni soldiers and a Sunni policeman whom they captured earlier this month, including Shaaban, a source close to the group said.

BRISBANE, Australia - Australian police Wednesday raided an Islamic centre and seized two men for alleged involvement in recruiting and sending jihadist fighters to Syria.

The raids involving 180 police came a day after the country's spy chief said he was "actively considering" raising the terror threat level over Australians' involvement in overseas militant groups.

Australian Federal Police said the men, aged 21 and 31, were arrested for terrorism offences, alleging they were "involved in recruiting, facilitating and funding people to travel to Syria to engage in hostile activities".

The arrests, after a 12-month investigation, came during several raids in Brisbane and Logan, a city just south of the Queensland capital, where they focused on the iQraa Islamic Centre and bookstore.

A gun and a crossbow were found during the raids, said Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan.

The younger man was charged with recruiting people to go to Syria to fight for al Qaeda-backed militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, and with preparing to travel to the Middle Eastern country "with the intention of engaging in hostile activity".

Police have yet to charge the 31-year-old.

Authorities did not name either of them. But Gaughan confirmed the older man was the brother of Abu Asma al Australi, who was suspected of being the first Australian suicide bomber to die in Syria.

Gaughan said there was no information at this stage that the men were planning a terrorist attack in the country.

"Australians travelling offshore to engage in, or support terrorist activities or conflict present a significant threat to Australia's national security -- both in foreign countries and upon their return to Australia," he added.

Queensland police Assistant Commissioner Gayle Hogan said there was "nothing in this investigation that points to any attack or any problems in relation to the G20".

Brisbane is set to host the G20 leaders' summit in November.

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