Jabah al-Nusra, the Islamic terror group armed by the Qatari monarchy under CIA supervision, has reportedly taken upward to 20 hostages in Sydney, Australia, according to media reports.
BREAKING NEWS: Flag in Sydney cafe window confirmed to be that of Jabah Al-Nusra, says Islamic terror expert on 7News pic.twitter.com/1UMa3DwuNJ
— PzFeed Top News (@PzFeed) December 15, 2014
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott issued a statement stating New South Wales Police and the Australian Federal police have responded to the incident at the Lindt Chocolate Café located at Martin Place in Sydney.
“This is obviously a deeply concerning incident but all Australians should be reassured that our law enforcement and security agencies are well trained and equipped and are responding in a thorough and professional manner,” Abbott said.
— Justin Credible (@credmau5) December 15, 2014
It is, however, unclear if the terrorists are connected to al-Nusra, its partner, the Islamic State, formerly ISIS, or if it is an incident unrelated to the groups.
KPCC in Pasadena notes:
TV footage showed two people inside the cafe holding up what appeared to be a black flag with white Arabic writing on it.
Zain Ali, the head of the Islamic Studies Research Unit at the University of Auckland, said it was difficult to read the message because media images showed only the lower part of the flag. But he believed it was the Shahada, or declaration of faith, largely because a black flag with white writing in a contemporary context often contains that message. He said he could make out the word “Muhammad.”
Ali said the Shahada translates as “There is no deity of worship except God (Allah), and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” It is considered the first pillar of Islam’s five pillars of faith, and has been used by groups like al-Qaida and Islamic State but wasn’t invented by them, Ali said.
Police have sealed off streets, suspended rail service, and evacuated buildings in the vicinity.
The incident follows the arrest of a man earlier today in Sydney on terror charges.
According to authorities, the man was arrested in connection with “continuing investigations into the planning of a terrorist attack on Australian soil and the facilitation of travel of Australian citizens to Syria to engage in armed combat,” the AFP reported.
In October, the Australian Parliament passed the controversial Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment bill which makes it easier for police and security agencies to apprehend alleged terrorist suspects and supporters and detain them without explanation and sentence them to long prison terms.