Australian man charged with planning ‘terror attack’

Phillip Galea, who is reportedly linked to far-right groups, says charges against him are conspiracy against “patriots”.

Counter terror raid in west of Melbourne, one arrested
Phillip Galea, 31, was arrested in police raids in Melbourne on Saturday [Tracy Nearmy/ EPA]

A 31-year-old man with reported links to far-rights groups has appeared in an Australian court charged with planning a “terror attack”.

Phillip Galea was arrested in a series of police raids in the city of Melbourne on Saturday. He was charged with “acts done in preparation for a terrorist act” and “collecting or making documents likely to facilitate a terrorist act”.

“I will be fighting these charges and I believe they are a conspiracy against the patriot movement,” Galea told a Melbourne magistrates’ court hearing on Sunday, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Australian media organisations reported that Galea had links to far-right organisations, such as Reclaim Australia and True Blue Crew. The groups, which are not political parties, have previously been involved in violent clashes with pro-immigration groups at anti-Islam rallies in Melbourne.

READ MORE: Unease with Australia’s Islamophobia

Reclaim Australia posted a statement on its Facebook that it had no links to the arrested man and that it “always denounced violence”.

“We represent the middle ground of Australia, not far right, nor extremist,” the group said.

Australian police said: “The individual in custody has a number of affiliations to different organisations,” but refused to name any of them.

Police did not give details of the target of the alleged attack, but said that it was in the southern state of Victoria.

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Ross Guenther, the Victoria police counterterrorism command assistant commissioner, told Australian media that earlier this year authorities had received information suggesting there were people, or an individual, looking at either advocating harm or producing documents that might lead to the harm of people in the state.  

“I’m very pleased to say I think we’ve interrupted something that could have been quite serious in terms of harm to our community,” he said.

Far-right political parties, opposing Islam and Asian immigration, are currently on the rise in Australia.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies