July 2 (UPI) -- Australian counter-terrorism police arrested two men Tuesday and raided six homes to foil what they say was a terror plot still in the planning stages.
Authorities charged el-Matari with one count of preparing for a terrorist act and one count of being part of a terrorist organization. Dakkak was expected to be charged with being a member of the Islamic State.
Investigators said the men were planning to use the stash of weapons to attack local churches, courts, police stations and the military. Police said el-Matari and Dakkak communicated on messaging apps about attacking potential targets in central Sydney.
Authorities said they arrested a third man during the raids on unrelated charges.
"There are people out there who still want to commit acts of terror in this country, sadly, but we're doing everything we can to prevent those acts," said New South Wales Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing.
Authorities said they started investigating el-Matari after he took a trip to Lebanon a year ago. He had recently purchased a ticket to Afghanistan, they said, where he planned to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State and pick up weapons.