MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A 17-year-old boy arrested last week when police allegedly found three homemade bombs in his family home in Australia’s second-largest city appeared in a children’s court on Monday charged with terrorism offenses.
The boy, who as a juvenile suspect cannot be publicly identified, was remanded in custody after a brief court appearance in a Melbourne Children’s Court during which he was charged with planning a terrorist act somewhere in Victoria state and with possessing items connected with a terrorist act.
He faces a potential sentence of life in prison if convicted.
Attorney General George Brandis told the Senate that the boy was the 23rd person to be charged in eight counterterrorism raids in the east coast cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Logan since September when Australia’s terrorist threat alert was raised to the second highest level on a four-tier scale due to the unprecedented threat posed by the Islamic State movement.
The boy did not enter a plea and did not apply for bail. His next court appearance is May 26.
The boy sat in the dock flanked by police during the hearing. None of the boy’s family appeared to be in the courtroom.
The son of a Syrian-born doctor was arrested Friday outside his home in the Melbourne suburb of Glenvale, and police carried out controlled detonations to destroy three explosive devises found in the house.
Police have said an attack was imminent, but have not said where or when the suspect planned to detonate the bombs.
Last month, five Australian teenagers were arrested on suspicion of plotting an Islamic State group-inspired terrorist attack at a Veterans’ Day ceremony also in Melbourne that included targeting police officers.
Brandis, who is responsible for Australia’s main domestic spy agency, said there was no apparent link between the two plots.
“We must remain vigilant in particular in light of a concerning trend which has increasingly seen young people forming an intent to undertake terrorist acts,” Brandis told the Senate.
“Young people as young as 14, without criminal records or strong links to known terror networks, are being groomed online by terrorist organizations and presenting a new challenge for security and law enforcement agencies,” he added.
British authorities last month charged a 14-year-old boy with terrorism offenses in connection with an alleged plot to attack on veterans’ ceremony in Melbourne, which is known as ANZAC Day after the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
The boy allegedly incited another person to carry out an attack on a parade with the aim of killing or causing serious injury to people.
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