Australia’s intelligence agencies have uncovered a plot by the Islamic State militants to launch a “Mumbai-style” terror attack on the parliament with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and other top officials being the prime targets.
Armed Federal Police officers have been deployed inside parliament after fresh information emerged that suspected terrorists were planning an attack on the highest office.
“There will be armed federal police in and around our national parliament at all times,” Prime Minister Abbott told a press conference. “Earlier this month I was advised of chatter among these terrorist networks of a potential attack on government, government people, parliament house,” he said.
He said he ordered an urgent security review in response which recommended tighter measures at parliament.
“I am concerned for the safety of the Australian people. It’s not about me... it’s about the safety of the Australian people,” he added.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper quoted intelligence sources as saying that “chatter” about parliament had been intercepted and they now held fears the building had already been “scoped out” for pre-planning of a “Mumbai-style” attack.
The chatter, intercepted by spy, police and counter-terrorism agencies, revealed talk about access to parliament.
Senior security sources have identified the most vulnerable entry point to the parliament was the entrance to the ministerial wing, which could be infiltrated by “taking out” two unarmed parliamentary security officers who represent the only sentry point to prevent instant access to the Prime Minister’s own courtyard. From there a potential terrorist would have a direct line of sight into the Prime Minister’s office, the sources said.
The Federal Police was removed from the parliamentary security committee under the previous government in March last year, with the Department of Parliamentary Services taking over security at the building entrances.
“What we are concerned about is that there are thousands of people in that building including not only staff but MPs and members of the general public who visit on a daily basis,” an intelligence source said.
It is not yet established whether the plot is linked to the suspects netted in yesterday’s dramatic pre-dawn raids in Sydney and Brisbane in which a sinister plan by Islamic State jihadists to carry out public beheadings and circulate gruesome videos was uncovered, the report said.
Operatives of the Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out the attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people in November, 2008.
Image: The Taj Hotel in Mumbai was under attack during the 26/11 attacks.