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Sydney terrorism plot thwarted as Islamic State flag seized

[SYDNEY] Australian police said they thwarted a terrorism plot after arresting two men yesterday in Sydney and seizing a machete, a knife and an Islamic State flag.

The two men appeared in court today and were charged with planning an act of terrorism, New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn told reporters in Sydney. The men weren't on police's radar and their intended target hasn't been established, she said.

"This is indicative of the threat that we now have to live with and we are having to deal with," Burn said. Officers seized a video in the raid yesterday in the western Sydney suburb of Fairfield, in which one of the men indicated the attack was being planned for Feb 10. Asked about media reports the suspects planned to carry out a beheading, Burn said it was unclear what they intended to do.

The government raised the nation's terrorism alert to the highest level in a decade in September, citing the threat posed by local supporters of Islamic State militants. Authorities increased patrols at transport hubs and landmarks in Sydney in December after a 16-hour siege in a city cafe ended in a shootout that left two hostages and the gunman dead.