The raids took place in Brisbane and Sydney and, according to some media reports, were triggered by a plot to publicly behead random Australians.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said police acted following a call from a senior Islamic State militant for “demonstration killings”.

“Direct exhortations were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country,” he said.

“This is intent and that’s why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have.”

The Australian Federal Police said a total of 15 people were arrested, and it’s been reported that one person has been charged with conspiracy to prepare a terrorist attack.

The operation involved more than 800 officers.

AFP Acting Commissioner Andrew Colvin (pictured) said the purpose of today’s action was to keep the community safe.

“The police activity today was about preventing this group at the earliest possible opportunity and ensuring their plans did not come to fruition,” he said.

“Law enforcement agencies will continue to work together to combat threats before they become a reality.”

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