Cache of military style weapons uncovered

Counter terrorism raids across Sydney targeting people with alleged extremist views have uncovered a cache of illegal military style weapons.

The New South Wales Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) executed five search warrants across the city’s southwest yesterday morning and seized 14 firearms and hundreds of rounds and ammunition.

Three men aged 26, 29 and 30 were arrested as part of Operation Bouwel and charged with 73 offences.

“Earlier this year, JCTT received information relating to a group with possible access to illegal firearms and members with suspected extremist ideology,” a NSW Police spokesperson said.

“Operation Bouwel was subsequently commenced to investigate the group’s involvement in the acquirement and supply of firearms and explosives.”

Officers seized four SKS rifles, a Taurus 9mm pistol .45 calibre self-loading pistol, a .45 calibre handgun, a semiautomatic .22 calibre rifle with silencer, a semiautomatic M1 carbine, and a pump-action shotgun.

Also allegedly found in yesterday’s raids were an MK5 rifle, a Beretta 9mm pistol, and a 9mm mini-Glock pistol.

Two banana magazines and 523 rounds of ammunition of various calibres were also seized.

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Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Scott Lee said a tip-off about a person with “extremist sympathies” who was allegedly aligned to Islamic State ideology sparked the joint investigation.

“We’ve captured evidence in terms of the extremist beliefs that are consistent with Islamic State and that’s obviously part of the information that we obtained that caused us such concern,” Mr Lee told reporters.

“There’s no evidence (the man planned to join IS) … but certainly the evidence is that he’s supportive of ISIS and was looking to provide funds to IS.”

None of the men are facing terrorism charges, he added.

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“All of the firearms will undergo extensive forensic and ballistic examination,” the NSW Police spokesperson said.

“During the searches, investigators seized electronic devices and clothing relevant to the investigation, along with cash and prohibited drugs.”

The 29-year-old man from Bankstown was charged with 43 firearms-related offences as well as for participating in a criminal group or contributing to criminal activity.

The 26-year-old from East Hills was charged with 22 firearms-related offences and one count of participating in a criminal group or contributing to criminal activity.

And the 30-year-old man, from Condell Park, is facing five firearms charged as well as one of participating in a criminal group or contributing to criminal activity.

The three were refused bail and were due to front Parramatta Bail Court today.

Anyone with information about extremist activity or possible threats to the community should come forward, no matter how small or insignificant you may think the information may be, the spokesperson said.

The National Security Hotline is 1800 123 400.

Further, information relating to any criminal activity in the community can be reported to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Information is treated in strict confidence.

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