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Australia Issues Terror Alert

The Australian government says it has "credible" information that terrorists are planning to attack the country in the next two months. A general warning is issued and Australian security agencies are on a higher state of alert.

Australian authorities say the threat of a terrorist attack is from a credible source and is linked to general warnings issued in other western countries.

The government has refused to reveal any details about the source or explain how the government knew it was credible.

Justice Minister Chris Ellison believes al-Qaida is involved. He says the threats do not contain specific references to military facilities or other government buildings.

The government is urging Australians to be extra vigilant. "This information is linked to a general alert in the United States and the United Kingdom," said Minister Ellison, "and we believe that it's appropriate to inform the Australian people of this and of course I would stress that it's business as usual in Australia. Be alert but not alarmed."

Prime Minister John Howard's conservative government has been one of the staunchest supporters of the United States in its war on terror. It has sent military hardware and elite troops to serve alongside U.S. forces.

Meanwhile, in Western Australia, a 49-year-old man has appeared in court on charges of conspiring to bomb Israeli diplomatic missions in Canberra and Sydney.

Jack Roche, a British-born Muslim convert, was arrested on Monday. Last month, security agents raided his house and those of others suspected to be sympathizers of radical Islamic groups.

Mr. Roche has admitted a close association to Jemaah Islamiah, a Muslim organization the Australian government suspects was involved in last month's bomb attack in Bali.

However, Australian police are stressing that the arrest of Mr. Roche is not connected to the investigation of the Bali bombings, where almost 200 people were killed. Most of the victims were Australian tourists.