MELBOURNE: Australian police have arrested five men, including a top hardline Islamic preacher, who were planning to join the dreaded IS terror group by sailing to Indonesia by a boat.
The arrests took place in Queensland yesterday as the men with cancelled passports were towing a boat towards Cape York, in far north Queensland.
The men included Islamic preacher Musa Cerantonio, Shayden Thorne, the brother of another hardline Islamist, Junaid Thorne, police said.
Cerantonio was deported in 2014 from the Philippines where he had been hiding out. At that time he was regarded as one of the worlds most prominent online English-language preachers of the extremism espoused by the Islamic State.
They have been being held on suspicion of foreign incursion offences, media reports said.
“The men had been under investigation for a number of weeks. The men, aged between 21 and 33, have not yet been charged. They were in a boat that was seven-metres long,” Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan said.
“The fact that theyd travelled from Melbourne to far north Queensland indicates that these people were extremely committed in their adventure and their attempt to leave the country,” he added.
“The suspicion is that they were seeking to leave Australia by (the) vessel to avoid the fact that they couldnt travel by air because their passports had been cancelled,” he said.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said police would be considering charges after the men were questioned.
“We have a requirement to ensure that people cant get offshore to go and fight in other countries, cant get offshore to become hardened terrorists and come back here and pose a risk,” he said.