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Australia arrests 'IS' missile-design suspect

February 28, 2017

The Australia-born electrician had counseled the militant group on how to develop missile capabilities, police said. The country's chief of police said the information the suspect provided was "fairly sophisticated."

Counterterrorism forces in Melbourne
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/T. Nearmy

Australian prosecutors on Tuesday charged a 42-year-old man for helping the so-called "Islamic State" (IS)group to develop long-range guided missile capabilities.

Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said the Australia-born electrician had contacts "not just in the conflict zones, but also in other parts of the world and relied on them to pass the information."

The suspect had advised the militant group on how to design a laser missile-warning device and develop its own missiles, according to police.

"In terms of the advice he was providing, we will allege it was fairly sophisticated and well-planned," Colvin said.

The 42-year-old man had been detained in the small town of Young in Australia's New South Wales region.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the arrest followed an 18-month operation, describing it as "another reminder of the enduring threat we face from Islamist terrorism."

"This highlights that terrorism, support for terrorist groups and Islamist extremism is not limited to our major cities," Turnbull said "It once again shows that we all need to be very vigilant."

The suspect can receive a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if authorities find him guilty of the terror-related offenses.

Terror alert

In September 2014, Australia raised its terror-alert level to high amid fears of foreign fighters returning from Syria and Iraq after joining militant groups in the region.

Roughly 200 Australians have traveled to the Middle East to join IS and other terrorist groups fighting on the ground, according to authorities.

Since the rise of IS in 2014, Western nations have increased counterterrorism measures in a bid to curb attacks and prevent homegrown radicalization.

Australian authorities have prevented at least 12 terror attacks since then, according to officials.

ls/kms (AFP, Reuters)