Turkish soldiers stand guard on the Gallipoli peninsula.
Turkish soldiers stand guard on the Gallipoli peninsula.

ISIS ‘plot’ to attack Anzacs at Gallipoli

BILL Shorten has urged Australians travelling overseas to exercise a high level of caution, following "deeply concerning" reports of a suspected Islamic State member plotting to attack today's Anzac commemorations at Gallipoli.

The Labor leader said he's requested security briefings which will be coming within hours.

"This world should have no tolerance for violent extremism - violent Islamist extremism or any other quarter," he told reporters. "But what we can't do is let it discourage the marvellous tradition of young Australians travelling to the battlefields where Australians have fallen in previous conflicts.

"We should be proud of our identity as Australians and our history, and we should learn about the sacrifice."

"We've always got to maintain a high level of caution," he said, noting the recent terror bombings in Sri Lanka as an example. "But I for one love that so many young Australians in particular are coming to dawn services in numbers unseen."

A suspected IS member has been arrested in Turkey over a plot to attack today's Anzac commemorations at Gallipoli which will be attended by thousands of Australians and New Zealanders.

The arrested man, from Syria, was taken into custody in Tekirdag, a province close to the Gallipoli peninsula, police said.

Security sources told the ABC the attack was planned in retaliation for the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Local media named the man as Abdulkerim Hilef, 25, and released a blurred photo of him.

 

Turkish media published a blurred passport photo of the suspect, named as Abdulkerim H. Picture: Supplied
Turkish media published a blurred passport photo of the suspect, named as Abdulkerim H. Picture: Supplied

 

The arrest followed a police raid on an alleged Islamic State cell near the Syrian border. A mobile phone was also seized.

A source told the Herald Sun police believe he was planning to "bomb the service or drive a car into the crowd".

Police evacuated the Gallipoli site and were conducting a thorough search to check for bombs in the area just hours before the dawn service was due to begin.

Turkish nationals were banned from attending the dawn service, which Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell is due to be at, amid heightened security fears.

 

Members of New Zealand armed forces at Mehmetcik monument in the Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey, Tuesday, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Picture: AP
Members of New Zealand armed forces at Mehmetcik monument in the Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey, Tuesday, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Picture: AP

 

The Department of Veterans' Affairs said the dawn service would go ahead.

"The Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs and the New Zealand Defence Force (joint lead agencies) are aware of Turkish media reports that the Turkish National Police has arrested an individual who is alleged to be involved in activities designed to disrupt Anzac services at Gallipoli," the department told News Corp.

"This is a matter for the Turkish Authorities.

"Australian and New Zealand agencies are liaising with the responsible Turkish authorities in relation to this media reporting."

It follows inflammatory comments made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the Christchurch terror attack last month. President Erdogan said New Zealanders and Australians who travelled to Turkey with bad intentions would be returned in coffins like their ancestors at Gallipoli.

He also repeatedly used footage of the mosque massacre at a campaign rally.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, has been charged with 50 counts of murder for New Zealand's worst peacetime mass shooting. Fifty other people were injured in the attacks, which occurred during Friday prayers.

Every year, Australians and New Zealanders travel to Turkey for memorial services commemorating the 1915 Anzac military campaign to drive Ottoman troops from Gallipoli and the Dardanelles region.

Soldiers from New Zealand, Australia, Turkey and other countries held several services at Gallipoli on Wednesday, ahead of Thursday's dawn service marking the landings.

The police spokesman did not specify which day the detained suspect may have been planning to carry out the alleged attack.

Turkey has said Islamic State was responsible for several bombings that took place in 2015 and 2016, which killed some 200 people in total. Although the militant group has not been active in Turkey of late, authorities still carry out routine operations against suspected Islamic State members.