Melbourne terrorism: Aran Sherani, Ari Sherani charged with attempted terrorist act

Two Melbourne brothers aged 19 and 20 are facing terror charges after a bushfire and a public assault police allege were inspired by religious extremism.

Two young men have been hit with terror charges after being arrested over a fire and an alleged assault in Melbourne.

The brothers, from Epping, were both charged on Thursday morning with one count of attempting a terrorist act and appeared briefly in the Melbourne Magistrates Court that afternoon.

Aran Sherani, 19, was also charged with intentionally causing injury, act in preparation of a terrorist act and membership of a prescribed terrorist organisation.

Police allege the teenager is a member of ISIS and bought a knife on Wednesday with the intention of using it to commit a terrorist act.

Ari Sherani, 20, was charged after being released from hospital following assessment on a medical episode suffered in custody.

The court heard it was the first time in custody for both brothers.

Their lawyers Sarah Condon and Louis Dean both said the brothers would be “vulnerable” in prison because of the nature of the charges, their young ages, and because they had never been in jail before.

Neither made an application for bail.

The charges relate to a fire that was allegedly lit in bushland about 30 minutes north of Epping on February 18 and an alleged public assault in metropolitan Melbourne on March 9.

Victoria Police terrorism command Assistant Commissioner Michael Hermans claimed the alleged acts were motivated by Islamist religious extremism.

“It’s religious-based ideology,” he said of the allegations.

“We received information that suggested their ideology would be of concern to the Victorian community.

“Those initial inquiries led us to believe that perhaps the investigation was more serious.

“There’s ideology that motivates, that makes us believe that it’s linked to extremist ideology.”

Three youths were arrested on Wednesday in Joint Counter Terrorism Team raids on properties at Epping and Pascoe Vale by officers from Victoria Police, the Australian Federal Police and ASIO.

A 16-year-old boy was questioned and released without charge on Wednesday.

Mr Hermans said police would continue to engage with the boy and attempt to “divert” him away from extremist activity.

Mr Hermans said police believe the action taken on Wednesday had “addressed the risk” the trio presented to the Victorian community.

He said it made no difference to police what extremist ideology or religious beliefs may have motivated the acts.

“Let me make it very clear – we target the crime, not the ideology and it makes no difference to us where the investigation leads,” he said.

They will next appear in court on July 20.

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