Cancelled passports common link to terror plots
The passports of at least a dozen Islamic extremists in Victoria accused of plotting or committing terrorist acts had been cancelled by authorities.
They include Hanifi Halis, 21, Ertunc Eriklioglu, 30, and Samed Eriklioglu, 26, arrested on Tuesday and each charged with one count of acting in preparation for, or planning of, terrorist acts.
The trio were arrested in pre-dawn raids, with Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton saying they were plotting to carry out a deadly attack at a crowded place in Melbourne, in order to cause maximum casualties.
The three had their passports cancelled in January, March and October this year.
There is a long line of radicalised men who, having had passports cancelled or a passport application rejected, are accused of plotting lethal attacks on Victorians.
Since 2012, some 240 Australian passports have been cancelled or refused in relation to continuing conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
Assistant Commissioner Ross Guenther, head of the counter-terrorism command, said on Tuesday: "When people are prevented from travelling or it's difficult to get to the conflict zone, then often the view will be: 'I'll change tactic and commit an act in the country in which I live'. "
Federal MP and former police counter-terrorism investigator Jason Wood said new solutions, such as cancelling a passport after a terror suspect had left Australia, may now be called for. "Maybe it's time to review that," he said.
Victims of Crime Commissioner Greg Davies said those born overseas who wanted to involve themselves in foreign conflicts should be allowed to go - and have their passports cancelled as soon as they were on the plane.
Mr Davies said Australia would need to inform the country of destination that the terror suspect was en route.
"Surely it's worth looking at. Modern problems need modern solutions," he said.
On November 9, Hassan Khalif Shire Ali was shot dead by police in Bourke St after he set alight a ute filled with gas bottles then attacked bystanders with a knife - killing beloved cafe owner Sisto Malaspina and injuring two others.
His passport was cancelled in 2015 over fears he would try to join a terrorist group in Syria.
Ibraham Abbas, Abdullah Chaarani and Ahmed Mohamed, all recently found guilty of plotting to kill people in Melbourne's CBD on Christmas Day 2016, had their passports cancelled earlier.
In 2014, Numan Haider was shot once in the head and died from his injury after he launched a frenzied stabbing attack on two counter-terrorism officers in Endeavour Hills. Haider's family said the teen had "snapped" due to having his passport cancelled the day before his encounter with police.
Sevdet Besim, Haider's friend, was jailed for 10 years for planning to behead a police officer in an Anzac Day attack. Besim's application for a passport had also been rejected.
And five other men who have also been charged with terrorism offences in Melbourne also had their passports cancelled before they were arrested.
A spokesperson for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation said: "Consistent with longstanding practice, ASIO does not comment on individuals, intelligence or operational matters."