The arrest in Australia of four men suspected of plotting suicide attacks at a Sydney army base has prompted fears that al-Qaeda and its affiliates may be planning more terrorist outrages. The four – all Australian but of Somali and Lebanese origin – were seized in Melbourne. Police said they had links to a Somali group called al-Shabaab, a violent youth movement fighting to impose strict Islamic law in the Horn of Africa. It’s thought they were radicalised back in Africa, and returned to Australia to launch their attack.
“Australia is the gold medal target for al-Qaeda and its franchises around the world,” said Carl Ungerer, from the Australian National Security Agency. “We have not been targeted successfully since 2001. Somalia appears to be, and North Africa more broadly, the new training ground for al-Qaeda. The infrastructure is in fact there, not in Afghanistan as it was ten years ago.” The suspects were living in the immigrant community in Melbourne. Other Somalis there fear a backlash from angry Australians. Their alleged target was Holsworthy army barracks in Sydney. Australia has not seen a terrorist attack on home soil, but has suffered the effects. 95 of its people have been killed in attacks on Western targets in Indonesia since 2002.