HAY POINT: Anzac Day service 2019

Gallipoli terror plot: 'It's just disgusting'

THE foiled terror plot to attack an Anzac Day service at Gallipoli has been labelled "disgusting" as Mackay region veterans pay tribute to those who fought for the freedoms Australians enjoy today.

One politician attending the dawn service at Hay Point said he feared attacks would come closer to home if immigration policy did not change.

As the Hay Point service ended this morning, many veterans were just learning of details emerging of an alleged terrorist's plan to drive a car through the Gallipoli crowd or detonate a bomb.

Shutting his eyes in horror as he heard the news, Navy veteran Tom Andrews described the near miss as disgusting and shocking.

Mr Andrews, from Salonika Beach at Hay Point, is a third generation serviceman, having completed two trips on the HMAS Sydney with the Royal Australian Navy to Vietnam to support armed forces inland.

 

Anzac Day 2019: Veteran Tom Andrews at the Hay Point dawn service.
Anzac Day 2019: Veteran Tom Andrews at the Hay Point dawn service. Rae Wilson

His grandfather was among the fortunate soldiers who returned home from World War I.

"He got off Gallipoli alive, he then went on to France where he was joined by two of his brothers and all three came home, which was great," he said.

"One of my great uncles was injured but mended and came home.

"It's upsetting to hear this (about Gallipoli today). It's horrendous and unfortunately in the current climate throughout the world it's always in the back of your mind that some criminal would carry out something like that on such a very, very special day."

Reports surfaced overnight that a suspected Islamic State member had been arrested in Turkey over a plot to attack today's Anzac commemorations at Gallipoli, which thousands of Australians and New Zealanders will be attending.

Police evacuated the Gallipoli site and were conducting a thorough search to check for bombs in the area just hours before the dawn service was due to begin.

The arrested man, from Syria, was taken into custody in Tekirdag, a province close to the Gallipoli peninsula, police said.

A source told the Herald Sun police believed he was planning to "bomb the service or drive a car into the crowd".

Security sources told the ABC the attack was planned in retaliation for the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Fifty people died and 50 more were injured when an Australian man allegedly attacked two mosques in Christchurch.

To the suggestion the planned attack could be retaliation for the Christchurch massacre, Mr Andrews said: "That is an utter copout".

Mirani MP Stephen Andrew, from One Nation, also described the alleged terror plot as disgusting and questioned how it could be further retaliation for Christchurch after the Sri Lanka attacks that had killed more than 300 people and injured about 500 people.

"What about Sri Lanka? I thought that was retaliation. So when do we ever stop paying (for Christchurch)?," he asked.

"It's going to happen closer and closer to home the more we accept people who probably aren't vetted as well as they should be.

"It doesn't matter where they come from, if they've got that way of thinking and they've been in wartorn countries or been radicalised, it's just shocking to have to worry about these things.

"It could happen right here, right now, that's the sad part about it."

Mackay Anzac Day March :
Mackay Anzac Day March :

Mr Andrew tells the story of his granddad James Searle Petersen going into France with 700 men and being one of only 12 to come out.

"They'd always take turns going at the front line, he'd pull his mate back saying 'it's my turn today mate, you had yours yesterday'. Camaraderie like you wouldn't believe," he said.

"He was wounded twice - a great man.

"It's a great thing to see those guys had the courage to make decisions in the face of adversity regardless of the consequences, which was usually their lives.

"We have the freedom today to be here and enjoy .... each others' company because of the price these people paid. It should never be forgotten."

 

Adam Hawkins, from McEwens Beach, served in the air force in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2002 to 2005 and he too was shocked.

"It's something we need to be vigilant of and wary of," he said.

"It's something we need to make sure doesn't happen to our tradition.

"People choose to go to Gallipoli to remember the past.

"That's their right, their prerogative but it's is a foreign land, not Australian territory so they, I guess, are going to go there at their own risk.

"If they've caught the person, though, that's good."

The Sri Lanka attacks that struck three churches and three luxury hotels were initially said to be retaliation for the March 15 mosque shootings in Christchurch.

But Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has since edged away from comments his state minister of defence made.

Mackay sub-branch president Raey Tuck said he was disappointed to hear the news.

"But the thing is, in Turkey they have honoured their past involvement by protecting the Australians (by foiling the plot)," he said after the Harrup Park service.

Mr Tuck said he was concerned terrorist attacks targeting civilians were the new way modern conflicts were conducted.

"Man is its own worst enemy," he said.

"It concerns me when you get people using religion as an excuse to butcher people.

"These people who butchered woman and children don't deserve to live.

"I'm a bit distressed about the bombing in Sri Lanka."

Mr Tuck said if the attack was in retaliation to Christchurch, they had chosen to target innocent Sri Lankans "because they weren't game enough to target Australia directly".

He said he was concerned that Sri Lankan intelligence was not passed on.

"Someone's head should roll," he said.