ISIS in Australia's Suburbs.
By Mary Kissel - Sept. 18, 2014 2:43 p.m. ET
If there were ever a doubt that the war on terror is truly global, Australia put that canard to rest Wednesday when 870 policemen launched the largest antiterror operation in the country's history. Authorities executed 25 search warrants at homes in Sydney and Brisbane's suburbs to pre-empt "demonstration killings," as Prime Minister Tony Abbott put it. Fifteen people were detained.
While details are still thin, local media report that the alleged terrorists planned to seize random members of the public, drape them in the Islamic State flag and behead them. "The exhortations, quite direct exhortations, were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country," Prime Minister Abbott explained, referring to the terror group also known as the Islamic State.
Australia has long had a problem with homegrown jihadists. Since Sept. 11, 2001, Australian authorities have pre-empted attacks on a military base, sports stadium, nuclear facility and the electrical grid. Prime Minister Abbott changed the country's "threat level" to high from medium this month amid concerns about local jihadists "working with, connected to or inspired by" Islamic fighters in Iraq and Syria. In July, former Sydney resident Mohamed Elomar posted a photograph of himself holding two decapitated heads in Iraq.
The American ally is familiar with al Qaeda and its local offshoots. Terrorists killed 92 Australians in two separate attacks on the Indonesia resort island of Bali in 2002 and 2005. In 2004 a car bomb placed outside Australia's embassy in Jakarta killed nine innocents and wounded 141 more. Some on the political left held an impromptu demonstration in Sydney Thursday night to decry Wednesday's police raids as unjust. But the vast majority of Australians support Prime Minister Abbott's efforts to protect them and their families.