A group of Sydney men with links to the terrorism suspects
arrested in raids last week have been placed under 24-hour
surveillance amid fears that members of the alleged cell remain at
At the same time, the Australian Federal Police Commissioner,
Mick Keelty, has hailed the discovery in Sydney of a vehicle -
containing chemicals, documents and digging equipment - as a
"significant" breakthrough in the investigation.
Homes, businesses and mosques in Sydney's south-west are under
constant watch by security agencies, all against a backdrop of
simmering resentment among some Muslims who say they are being
The NSW Police Minister, Carl Scully, told the Herald
yesterday: "There are a number of persons of interest who will be
the subject of continuing monitoring, both for intelligence and the
gathering of possible evidence. They want to be aware that if they
so much as think of planning something, we will be on to them."
Mr Scully described the people under surveillance as having
links to the "main group of suspects" but added "there was not
enough evidence to arrest them".
Both federal and state police sources say more arrests could
flow in coming days and weeks.
But the federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, said he
remained concerned about a possible terrorist act. "My greatest
fear is what we may not have been able to discover," he told
Channel Nine. "It's quite clear to me, if there are groups of
people that you've been able to identify and are of concern, it is
quite possible there may be others."
In Thailand, Mr Keelty said "we believe we have disrupted the
activities" and finding the burnt-out four-wheel-drive in Bankstown
last Thursday was important as authorities sought "corroboration of
all the facts before the court". Mr Ruddock did not deny reports
that a "supergrass" - a man who had trained with al-Qaeda - had
given police much of the information on the alleged terrorist cell.
The man reportedly fears for his life after last week's arrest of
18 men in Sydney and Melbourne.
Despite some concerns about witness identification, Mr Keelty
said federal police would not oppose the release of the prosecution
statement of facts against the Sydney suspects in court this
morning, after media were gagged from reporting it on Friday.
"There are good people who have reported the issue to us and
they should be afforded protection and confidentiality," he said.
It was "common sense" not to resist the magistrate's ruling to
release the statement. He hoped "it does not compromise anything we
have in place".
The Prime Minister talked about terrorism with US President
George Bush during a 30-minute phone call at the weekend. John
Howard also called again for Australian Muslims to do more to
report people spouting "perverted, fanatical" views.
The president of the Federation of Islamic Councils, Ameer Ali,
said he understood Mr Howard's sentiments but cautioned that
Muslims could not be a "police force". Waleed Kadous, convener of
the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network, said
ASIO inquiries had become regular, and sometimes resented.
At a dinner last night for an Islamic delegation from Malaysia
Keyser Trad said Muslims had suffered a backlash since the arrests.
"Young people don't know how to deal with their identity anymore
because of the reporting of these events. There is a savage element
in the media out there."
Mr Scully announced a review of NSW counter-terrorism resources
to boost intelligence, forensics, bomb detection and tactical
response. The full-time police counter-terrorism squad of 75
officers was likely to grow.
"One year ago, Jordanian authorities disrupted a terror cell,"
Mr Scully said. "One year later and there were three significant
terrorist strikes in one night. There is a lesson for us. That
could happen here. It calls for more vigilance and enhanced
Tom Allard and Connie Levett, Phuket
Sydney Morning Herald,14 November 2005