Five men are in custody after allegedly trying to leave Australia to join the war in Syria.
The men, originally from Melbourne, were arrested in Cairns as they attempted to leave Australia by boat.
The men were being held on suspicion of committing crimes under the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act, specifically foreign incursion offences.
Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said the men, aged between 21 and 33, intended to leave Australia.
“They were committed, obviously very committed. The fact that they came all the way from Melbourne to all the way to far North Queensland,” he said.
“… These people were extremely committed in their adventure and in their attempt to leave the country.”
Police would not reveal how long ago the men travelled to Queensland, but said they were planning to travel through Indonesia and the Phillipines to Syria.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said the men were the subject of eight warrants in Victoria and one warrant was issued in Queensland yesterday.
“I want it to be perfectly clear, this is a serious attempt by five men who are of a security interest to us, who have had their passports cancelled in an attempt to exit Australia,” he said.
“We’re investigating the intention to possibly end up in Syria to fight.”
Attorney-General George Brandis would not confirm whether a well-known Islamic preacher was among the group.
All five men had their passports cancelled.