Accessibility links

Australian Authorities Detect Increased 'Terrorist Chatter'

  • VOA News

Australian authorities say they have detected increased "terrorist chatter" in the days following last week's deadly siege at a Sydney cafe.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned Tuesday the terror threat remains "high," though he cautioned authorities do not know when or how an attack may take place.

"The briefing from the security agencies today indicated that there has been a heightened level of terrorist chatter in the aftermath of the Martin Place siege. That's why it's important that people remain alert and aware as well as reassured that our police and security agencies are doing everything they humanly can to keep us safe," said Abbott.

Abbott did not elaborate on what was meant by "terrorist chatter."

Two people died last week when a deranged, Iranian-born man held hostages at gunpoint at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney's central business district.

An official investigation into the final moments of the siege and the victims' and the hostage-taker's deaths is underway. The gunman, Man Haron Monis, dies in a shootout with police.

The Lindt cafe in Martin Place, a pedestrian avenue, is now boarded up.

Sydney siege funerals

On Tuesday, funeral ceremonies were held for the two hostages who died: 34-year-old cafe manager Tori Johnson and 38-year-old lawyer Katrina Dawson.

Several of the other 17 hostages attended the funeral service for 34-year-old Johnson at a church just meters away from the cafe. New South Wales state Premier Mike Baird and Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione also joined mourners, who included Johnson's partner of 14 years.

A quote from philosopher Rumi under a photo of Johnson graced the cover of the funeral booklet: “Outside the ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.”

More than 1,000 people attended a separate memorial service for 38-year-old Dawson at her alma mater, Sydney University. Her three children, aged four, six and eight, each chose a song for the service: “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” and “The Gambler,” respectively.

The huge carpet of thousands of bouquets of flowers in Martin Place was removed early on Tuesday as thunderstorms threatened to drench the city. The flowers will be crushed into mulch and scattered at a site to be determined.

Bright red and yellow bouquets from Johnson's service were placed at a smaller tribute site under a marquee in Martin Place.

Long rap sheet

Man Haron Monis, had a long criminal history and had expressed support for the Islamic State group. He was killed in a shootout with police.

Australian authorities have said Monis, who thought of himself as an Islamic sheikh, does not appear to have had any links with the Sunni Islamist group.

The country's terror alert has remained at the current "high" level since September, when Australia expanded its role in the fight against the Islamic State.

Australia has contributed to the U.S.-led military effort aimed at forcing the militants from the territory they control in parts of Iraq and Syria.

Dozens of Australian citizens are believed to have gone to the Middle East to fight for the extremist group, and authorities say many have since returned.

Some material for this report came from Reuters.