Australia orders federal police to take over security at house of parliament

Australia conducts anti-terror raids
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Story highlights

  • Prime Minister Tony Abbott: Urgent review of parliamentary security ordered
  • Organizations warn about a surge of Islamophobia
  • Demonstrators protest against the police raids
Australia ordered federal police to take over security at the house of parliament Friday, a day after police conducted one of the nation's largest counter-terrorism operations in the port city of Sydney.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said an urgent review of parliamentary security was ordered amid intelligence reports of "chatter" of potential threats by "terrorist support networks."
Meanwhile, several Islamic organizations in Australia sounded the alarm, warning about a surge of Islamophobia after Thursday's predawn counter-terrorism raids resulted in the detention of at least 15 suspects.
"Fair-minded Australians should not allow bigots and media shock jocks to undermine the cohesion within society," the Grand Mufti of Australia said, according to a statement released by a group of Islamic organizations.
Several hundred demonstrators peacefully protested against the police raids, some of them holding signs that said "terror raids cannot break the spirit of Muslims."
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Among the suspects detained this week was Australian Omarjan Azari, who was later formally charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism.
Azari was denied bail and is expected to reappear in court on November 13, authorities said.
Police told CNN another 24-year old man was released on bail after being charged with possession of ammunition without license and a prohibited weapon.
All other detainees have now been released, with two women issued future court attendance notices, police said.
In an interview with Australia's Seven Network on Friday, Abbott said a senior Australian member of the ISIS militant group in Syria had been overheard instructing sympathizers in Australia to carry out acts of violence.
"Because we believed that a demonstration execution was likely quickly, we acted as we did to disrupt this particular network," Abbott said.
Australian authorities estimate 60 citizens are fighting alongside ISIS and other militant groups in the Middle East.
This month, Australia was quick to accept U.S. President Barack Obama's call for an international coalition to battle ISIS.
Canberra announced plans to dispatch military advisers to assist the Iraqi military. Australia is also sending fighter jets and combat support aircraft to the United Arab Emirates to assist in the campaign against ISIS.