The man was rounded up during a special operation by police conducted at around 3 pm Monday local time [4 am GMT] in Werribee, some 32 kilometers southwest of Melbourne, where he lived with his Somali parents, police reported.
The suspect, who was born and raised in Australia, was handed over by police to a joint counter-terrorism team for interrogation.
“He was engaged in acting preparation for a terrorist offense and also collecting materials, documents to facilitate a terrorist act,” Victoria Police deputy commissioner Shane Patton told the media, speaking on the essence of the charges.
“What we will be alleging is that he was intending to use a firearm to shoot and kill as many people as he could in a Federation Square area on New Year’s Eve,” Patton said.
To this end, the man allegedly attempted to illegally obtain an automatic firearm and planned to follow Al-Qaeda manuals on how to commit a terrorist attack, The Age reports, citing Patton.
As he was about to buy a handgun, the man was swooped on by police.
The carnage was supposed to unravel at the Federation Square in downtown Melbourne, which is usually flooded with tens of thousands of people on December 31, celebrating the arrival of a new year.
The suspect reportedly drew inspiration from terrorist attacks carried out by other Islamist fanatics all over the globe, with police saying that the man “would become particularly energized” when such attacks were mounted.