Alleged terror hit list ‘included Turnbull, Bishop’
ONE of the University of NSW's top foreign graduates has been accused of plotting to assassinate Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop in the name of ISIS as part of a sweeping terror spree.
Their names were on a chilling hit-list that was only discovered when a university colleague of Sri Lankan national Mohamed Kamer Nilar Nizamdeen found what was allegedly his diary on Thursday afternoon and handed it to police.
Along with the nation's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister until last week, the alleged list of targets also included former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop, the Sydney Opera House, train stations and police stations, with police claiming the diary also contained graphic descriptions of planned attacks.
The VIP names and details meant counterterrorism police took no chances and moved swiftly to arrest the 25-year-old.
Police raided Nizamdeen's unit on Defries Avenue in Zetland at 2am where a number of electronic items were seized.
Later officers searched his office at UNSW where he has been working as an IT worker and had become a poster boy for successful foreign students after originally arriving in Australia on a student visa to study commerce some years ago.
Nizamdeen was arrested and later charged with knowingly make a document connected with terrorism.
NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team Commander, Detective Acting Superintendent Mick Sheehy said the alleged terrorist document was "significant" and would come under rigorous forensic examination by investigators and psychologists.
"From the documentation, we believe he would affiliate with ISIS," Det Sup Sheehy claimed.
"There are a number of locations and individuals named in that document who are potential targets."
Police will allege Nizamdeen was operating by himself as a lone wolf and do not believe he was yet capable of executing a terror attack.
Police said he did not have any criminal history in Australia.
His visa was due to expire next month. Det Sup Sheehy said Nizamdeen had been living in Australia for a number of years but had travelled back to Sri Lanka and other countries since.
His Facebook profile photos reveal holidays in the United States and late-night parties in Colombo.
Nizamdeen was not known to police but has been pictured alongside them at campus events.
He was in the process of applying for a further visa but the AFP has now applied for a Criminal Justice Stay VISA for him.
Australian Federal Police Detective Superintendent Michael McTiernan said police believed Nizamdeen had been planning a potential attack months "into the future". While there was no information to suggest it was a current threat, he warned that the situation could have potentially been deadly and that the situation should not be underestimated.
"We acted swiftly on information to arrest the man," Det Supt McTiernan said.
Daisy Giu lives on the same floor as Nizamdeen and said plain-clothed police officers rang her apartment around 9.30pm on Thursday night asking to be let up.
"Two men rang my bell and showed their badges through the intercom camera," she told The Saturday Telegraph. "I was so scared."
Ms Giu said she had little to do with Nizamdeen who kept to himself and didn't talk to neighbours.
However, the Sri Lankan was a visible presence at the university as the poster boy for UNSW's Hero Program with claims he boasted strong leadership credentials as a mentor at the university.
The commerce graduate has worked as a business systems analyst for the institution since 2016 where he helped develop a cybersecurity app used as an education tool and worked on projects which safeguard access to critical identity information.
"Cyber security is a current hot topic … if it's not carefully protected we can be left vulnerable and open to theft," he wrote in an online UNSW article, which has since been taken down along with other links to his work.
Former UNSW colleague Shahid Majeed previously described Nizamdeen as a "dedicated, competent, responsible and passionate individual with strong work ethics" in a personal LinkedIn reference.
Nizamdeen's own LinkedIn profile claims he speaks English, Sinhalese and Tamil, and enjoys reading novels, working out and "occasionally swimming".
He was a member of the UNSW Islamic Society and took part in many leadership development programs during his degree.
One UNSW article spruiking Nizamdeen's academic success applauds his "just do it" attitude and he advises other students not to be preoccupied with "pleasing the rest of the world".
"Being proactive and taking initiative is something that I've developed along the way. Whenever I used to go to networking events, I didn't know what to do," Nizamdeen says on the university's LinkedIn page.
"Create your own opportunities, if you want something, ask for it.