Police in Australia foiled a plot to commit mass murder on New Year's Eve in one of Melbourne's most popular areas to ring in the new year.
Officials arrested Ali Khalif Shire Ali, 20, Monday for "preparing to commit a terrorist attack and gathering documents to facilitate a terrorist act," according to Australia's ABC News. An Australian court formally charged Ali on Tuesday.
Authorities said Ali intended to shoot and "kill as many people as he could" in Federation Square on New Year's Eve, one of Melbourne's most popular areas, Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton told ABC. Last year, nearly 500,000 people gathered there for New Year's festivities.
Ali is an Australian citizen with Somalian parents, ABC reported.
Was Ali on the police's radar?
Authorities described Ali as a "high person of interest" whose activities they've been monitoring since January, BBC News reported.
"He has been subject to our active investigation and at no stage did he access a firearm — albeit that was his intention," Patton told ABC.
Ali reportedly accessed documents produced by Al Qaeda, including a guidebook detailing "how to commit a terroristic attack and how to use firearms."
"This is a person who would become particularly energized, for a lack of a better word, when overseas [terrorism] events occurred and would express a great deal of interest in committing an attack himself," Patton said.
Police obtained and executed warrants on Ali's family home in Werribee, a relative's home, and his place of work after he started trying to get a gun. Werribee is a Melbourne suburb.
The investigation is ongoing, and it's "very much an open question" whether his relatives were also involved, Patton told ABC.
Ali will remain jailed until his next court appearance in March.
One of the charges carries a maximum life in prison sentence.