Two Australian teenagers have been charged with planning a terrorist attack in their home country on behalf of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
The two 16-year-olds were arrested on Wednesday by the Australian counter-terrorism team in Bankstown, a western suburb of Sydney, according to Catherine Burn, the New South Wales police deputy commissioner.
Burn said the boys were carrying "two bayonet-type knives" when they were arrested and that they had potentially been radicalized by their peers to carry out an “imminent” act of terror.
Police did not reveal the names of the teens and said the exact target of their alleged plot was unknown.
"We did prevent what we would suspect was going to be an attack," Burn said, adding that, “We don't have any specific information of a particular target where we will allege that there was going to be an imminent attack.”
The pair will remain in custody until their next court appearance on December 7. They could face a life sentence if convicted, and 10 years for being a member of Daesh.
"The threat is real, it's enduring, it's still happening and the age of these two individuals is extremely concerning to us," said Michael Phelan, Australian Federal Police's deputy commissioner for national security.
Some youngsters were going from “zero to full radicalization within 48 hours or 72 hours to an event that we've had to stop,” he said.
The news comes just weeks after a 22-year-old man, inspired by Daesh, stabbed a 59-year-old victim multiple times in Minto, located about 48 kilometers southwest of Sydney.
Early last month, a teenager also went to the Sydney Opera House and said he had been instructed by Daesh to carry out an attack in the iconic building.
Australia has charged dozens of people with terrorism-related offenses over the past two years, including some accused of planning mass attacks on the public.
In August, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the parliament that 110 Australians had joined the ranks of Daesh and other militant groups in the Middle East.
A large number of Europeans and Westerners have entered Syria to join operations against the Damascus government. Fears are now growing that the militants, trained in Syria, may carry out terrorist attacks once they return home.
Australia has been on high alert for attacks by home-grown terrorists since two years ago.
In December 2014, a gunman, believed to be a Daesh sympathizer, took 18 people hostage in a 16-hour siege at a Sydney cafe. Two hostages died during the standoff, and the gunman was himself shot dead by police.
According to government officials, 11 attacks have been foiled since 2014 in Australia.