Weapons link to Australian 'plot'

From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6233773.stm

Jan 5, 2007

Australian police have arrested a man they suspect of involvement in the theft of military rocket launchers and their alleged sale to a terror suspect.

Taha Abdul Rahman, 28, was arrested in a Sydney suburb in a joint operation by police and counter-terrorism agents.

He has been charged with 17 offences, including dishonestly receiving stolen property and supplying a prohibited weapon without authorisation.

Police said the arrest was linked to current terrorism-related cases.

Eighteen men are currently in custody awaiting trial after being arrested in Sydney and Melbourne in November 2005 on suspicion of planning an attack on Australian soil.

Search for weapons

Seven rocket launchers were stolen from the Australian military last year. One is believed to have since been found.

Five of the launchers are alleged to have been sold by Mr Rahman to a "person... facing terrorism charges on another matter," Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Frank Prendergast said.

He said the other two launchers were given to another man, without giving details. Media reports suggest the man is not linked to terrorism.

"It is a matter of great importance to us to recover the six outstanding weapons," Mr Prendergast said.

Taha Abdul Rahman was remanded into custody until his next hearing on 10 January.

The coordinated raids in Melbourne and Sydney and subsequent arrests of 18 men in 2005 was the largest counter-terrorism operation staged in Australia.

Police at the time said they had averted a "potentially catastrophic attack", with reports suggesting the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Lucas Heights nuclear reactor were targeted.

There has never been a major terrorist attack on Australian soil, although 88 Australians died in the 2002 Bali bombings, and Australia's embassy in Indonesia was bombed in 2004.