Suspected Australian terrorists arrested in Far North Qld

FIVE would-be jihadists arrested in Queensland planned to use a seven-metre boat to get to Indonesia so they could join Islamic State, police believe.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton told a media conference there was no evidence were planning any domestic terrorist attack.

He alleged the five men, whose passports had already been revoked amid suspicions of their involvement in terrorist activities, towed a boat from Melbourne to Cairns in an effort to leave Australian shores.

"We're investigating the allegation that they were planning to make their way through Indonesia, to the Philippines with a view to making their way to Syria," Deputy Commissioner Patton said.

"We have a requirement to ensure that people can't get offshore to go fight in another country… can't get offshore to go become hardened terrorists and come back here and pose a risk."

The men were between 21 and 33 years old and all hailed from Melbourne.

Police said the fact they had travelled all the way from Melbourne to the northernmost tip of the country indicated they were "extremely committed".

"It's not a common occurrence. I wouldn't suggest people try to get to Syria by boat," Deputy Commissioner Patton said.

He added that speculation the arrests were related to the death of Australian Islamic State recruiter Neil Prakash was unfounded.

Prakash was killed in a US air strike on his home in Iraq on April 29.

New reports suggest his wife and baby also died in the attack.

"This investigation is in no way related to Neil Prakash's death," Deputy Commissioner Patton said.

Police would not comment on the accuracy of media reports well-known Australian radical Muslim preachers were among the men arrested.

No charges have yet been laid.

The joint operation involved Federal, Queenland and Victoria police.

-ARM NEWSDESK


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