This past month, NOV 2016, a video by ISIS featured the Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne Australia as a potential target for home-grown terrorists. In the video ISIS encouraged someone, anyone, to target the cathedral. Just a few days prior to Christmas, 400 combined forces in Australia acted upon 5 arrest warrants to arrest 6 men and a woman who were engaged in planning a plot to explode devices on or about Christmas day. The plan was to explode the devices on Federation Square. The two main structures on the Square are the Flinders Street railway station and St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral.
The combined, heavily-armed officers represented the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Federal Police and the Victorian State Police. The suspects arranged in age from 20 to 26 and appear to all be self-radicalized Islamist extremists, encouraged by ISIS propaganda. They were planning one of the most substantial terrorist attacks to date in Australia. It is a violation of Australian law to participate in planning terrorist acts. During the arrests, authorities took possession of supplies that could be used to create a bomb.
Both the Dean of the Cathedral and the Australian Primate have issued statements. Security around other Anglican and other Christian Cathedrals & churches have been increased.
I thank God that the message of hope, peace and reconciliation which is God’s message in Christ will be proclaimed clearly and publicly at St Paul’s, as well as all of our parish churches and authorised Anglican congregations. This disrupted terror plan should alert us all to making proper preparations for welcoming the many thousands of people – regular, occasional and no-church goers alike – to our Christmas worship. If you have any concerns about your security arrangements you should talk to your local police.
– The Most Revd Philip Freier
As a corollary to the increased police presence around Australia, the Kent Police Department in the UK has announced that it was increasing patrols of specialist armed officers in patrol around Canterbury Cathedral during the holiday.
The main photo was posted to flickr by Christopher Chan. Facts for the story were gleaned from the Anglican Communion News Service.