Police have carried out a massive counter terrorism operation in two states today, the largest in Australia’s history.

The raids come less than a week after Australia’s terror alert level was upgraded from medium to high.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed authorities acted on intelligence showing an Australian with a senior position in Islamic State was encouraging public beheadings.

Isabella Vecchio reports.


The raids were sudden and synchronised.

Hundreds of heavily armed officers, sniffer dogs and forensic crews, were in position at 4:30 this morning.

Residents only knew what was happening when they were woken by the sound of police helicopters.

This thermal vision shows officers moving in.

In all, 25 warrants were executed, covering 15 properties and 10 vehicles across Sydney’s west and north-west.

New South Wales Police allege a group was actively preparing attacks.

Andrew Colvin, Australian Federal Police Acting Commander: “Those violent acts particularly related to random acts against members of the public.”

They’re also investigating potential links to extremist group Islamic State.

Andrew Colvin, Australian Federal Police Acting Commander :”Police believe that this group that we have executed this operation on today were, had the intention and had started to carry out planning to commit violent acts here in Australia.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott had been kept in the loop at his Northern Territory post.

Tony Abbott, Prime Minister: “Last night I was briefed that this was imminent, it seems to have gone ahead very smoothly and professionally from the early hours of this morning.”

A 22-year-old faced court today, charged with one count of acting in the preparation and planning of a terrorist attack.

Omarjan Azari was refused bail and will remain in custody until the case returns to court on November 13

The 14 other people detained are still being questioned.

Police have not ruled out further charges.

Isabella Vecchio, QUT News.