Anti-terror raids: Aimless youth, 'wild ideas' and a trail

Raid sites: Federal police officers at a house in Narre Warren South on Wednesday. Picture: Gary Sissons

By CAMERON LUCADOU-WELLS

AN Islamic centre in Springvale South raided by police in an anti-terror operation has been described as a small group of young men with “wild ideas and too much time on their hands”.

The Al Furqan Islamic Information Centre in Wardale Road, Springvale South — reportedly headed by a “very patriotic Bosnian”, Sheikh Harun — was one of 12 properties raided by Victorian and federal police on Wednesday and Thursday.

A 23 year-old Officer man was arrested during the raids, which also took place in Hallam and Noble Park. He was charged with four counts of collecting or making documents likely to facilitate terrorist acts.

Police officers seized a USB containing “violent extremist materials”, computer equipment, and imitation and registered firearms.

Neil Aykan, general manager of the Islamic Council of Victoria, said he had not heard of the Al Furqan group before last week.

“They have wild ideas that have caught the attention of federal police who deemed them to be a potential threat to society.

“I’d say the group is more bark than bite.”

Mr Aykan said he was not familiar with the group’s “world view” as espoused on its website and Facebook page.

He said there seemed to be a consistency of rebelling against the norms of Western society and mainstream Muslim views.

“They seem to have so much time on their hands. They have hardliner attitudes.

“They seem to be in their 20s, single, male, possibly unemployed and alienated.”

He said he didn’t think there would be a general backlash against the Islamic community.

“The community, as a whole, has matured since September 11 [2001].”

Reverend Stephen Morris, who heads Greater Dandenong’s Interfaith Network, believed residents wouldn’t react in a generally hostile way to the Islamic community. “In the City of Greater Dandenong, it’s such a mixed community. Many people have neighbours next to them of different faiths. They just want religions get along in peace and harmony.”

Your first stop before buying a home. View the whole picture.