Two Melbourne Men Face Terrorism Charges, Including for Links to ISIS

March 17, 2021 Updated: March 17, 2021

Two young Melbourne men suspected of having extremist motivations are facing terrorism charges.

The 19-year-old and 20-year-old Epping men were arrested along with a 16-year-old Pascoe Vale boy following counter-terrorism raids in Melbourne’s north on Wednesday.

The 19-year-old will appear before Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday charged with an attempted terrorist act, intentionally causing injury, an act in preparation of a terrorist act and being a member of prescribed terrorist organisation, ISIS.

The 20-year-old was taken to hospital after his arrest because of a medical episode.

He will also face Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday accused of an attempted terrorist act.

The 16-year-old boy was released without charge.

The trio came to the attention of police after a fire in bushland about 30 minutes from Epping on Feb. 18 and an assault in a public place in metropolitan Melbourne on March 10.

Investigators believe the incidents may have been motivated by Islamist “religious extremism.”

Assistant Commissioner Scott Lee from the Australian Federal Police’s counter-terrorism and special investigations unit said the nature of fire, in particular, had raised suspicions.

“There is an ideology, and a violent extremist ideology, that has caused us concern, and it’s as a result of that ideology that we’re looking at these incidents being connected to a terrorism motivation,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“There are certain aspects to the lighting of the fire that leads us to suspect it was a terrorism motivation.”

Lee said counter-terrorism teams across the globe were encountering a “younger and younger” demographic.

Acting Premier James Merlino said the arrests highlighted the need for police vigilance.

“We rely on the expertise, the courage, the diligence of Victoria Police and again they’ve done an outstanding job,” Merlino said.

“It’s a reminder that there are dangers lurking.

“That’s why we need to give our police the powers, the resources that they need to make sure that they can foil terrorist attempts, such as the one we’re reading about in latest reports.”

By Callum Godde in Melbourne