17 terror suspects, including Tame Iti - the infamous Maori activist - were arrested in New Zealand on the 15th October 2007. They were captured after a significant police operation which involved more than 300 officers and was carried out over a wide area, including homes located in Hamilton, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland.
The arrests were the first made under the national Terrorism Suppression Act.
New Zealand police highlighted information that indicated military-fashioned training camps had been run, in which a number of people had participated.
Speaking at a subsequent press call, Howard Broad, a Police Commissioner, described the mixed racial backgrounds of the captured 17. He added that they "had a range of motivations", and that their arrest was a measure designed to "minimise risk to lives and property."
The operation through which they were captured was confined to New Zealand, he affirmed. He also detailed the range of weapons within their possession, which included shotguns, semi-automatic rifles and Molotov cocktails.
Finally, regarding the training camps, Mr Broad asserted "it was military-style activities they were training for."
Helen Clark, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, has stated she had prior knowledge of the terror raids, but would neither confirm nor deny whether a risk was ever posed to her. "Senior ministers have been briefed as a courtesy but this is a police decision to proceed on the basis of information they have", she stated.
According to New Zealand's Fairfax Media, the arrests followed a year-long period of surveillance into the suspects' activities. Video and audio evidence was assimilated and assessed during this time.
The media group quoted one source as having informed it that those arrested had been "talking of killing people."
Source - Security International's Australasian Reporter
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