Australia

Terror plot targeted public places: police

NSW Police have raided six properties in western Sydney and arrested three men over a terror plot. (AAP)

Police stations, defence buildings, embassies, councils, courts and churches were on a hit-list of three NSW men accused of planning terror attacks, police say.

Three men have been arrested after police uncovered an alleged Islamic State-inspired plot to attack several targets including police stations, consulates and churches in Sydney's CBD.

Federal and NSW counter-terrorism police raided six properties in Sydney's west on Tuesday morning and arrested the three Sydney men aged 20, 23 and 30.

Authorities say the younger men were members of Islamic State.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney said the plot was in the "early stages" of planning and targeted police stations, defence establishments, embassies and consulates, councils, courts and churches in Sydney's CBD.

The 20-year-old man from Greenacre allegedly had discussions about importing firearms and explosives to carry out the attack but hadn't selected a specific target or time, he added.

"We will allege the man has made early-stage preparations and has expressed an intention to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia," Mr McCartney told reporters.

Police allege he also made preparations to fight for IS in Afghanistan and obtained visas and purchased plane tickets.

"He had a plan to purchase a firearm once he arrived in Afghanistan - obviously through these activities he'd sworn allegiance to IS," Mr McCartney said.

The 20-year-old was monitored for the past 12 months since returning to Australia from Lebanon. He was known to Lebanese authorities.

The 23-year-old from Toongabbie was allegedly "prominent in the global online extremist community".

"There are still those people in the community who wish to do us harm," Mr McCartney said.

"They wish to do the community of Australia harm. I want to say they don't represent the Islamic faith."

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said the three men knew each other through social media and shared a "like-minded philosophy".

Tuesday's raids were conducted in Canada Bay, Chester Hill, Greenacre, Green Valley, Ingleburn and Toongabbie.

Several items were seized and will be subject for further forensic analysis with the searches ongoing.

The three men will likely be charged later on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old is expected to be charged with preparing for a terrorist act and preparing to enter a foreign country for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities. He could be jailed for life if found guilty.

The 23-year-old is expected to be charged with being a member of a terrorist organisation. He could be jailed for 10 years.

The 30-year-old - an associate of the other men - is expected to be charged with obtaining financial benefit by deception through fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits. He too faces 10 years behind bars.

"There is no immediate threat to the safety of the community as a result of this activity," a NSW Police spokeswoman said earlier on Tuesday.

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