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Bizarre coup plot to overthrow the PM, install a new federal police force

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Counter-terrorism officers have thwarted a bizarre plot to overthrow the Morrison government, install a new federal police force and arrest senior MPs and bureaucrats.

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Police involved in raids across three states on Saturday sought to downplay the alleged coup plot, saying there’s nothing to suggest those behind it had the ability to execute it.

But AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Andrew Donoghoe said the group’s intentions were made clear in a fake video that’s been circulating online, purporting to feature AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw.

A haul of 470 fake Australian Federal Police badges linked to one group member has also been found dumped in a Cairns creek.

The video, which falsely claims to carry the voice of Commissioner Kershaw, calls on like-minded people to band together and oust the government.

“They wanted to establish a separate Australian Federal Police force,” Donoghoe told reporters on Monday.

“They had issued several warrants for a number of high-profile government people and they intended to execute those arrest warrants on those people.”

The so-called “warrants” were in the names of senior politicians and public servants.

A 49-year-old man was arrested in the Perth suburb of Tuart Hill when counter-terrorism officers raided two properties in the city on Saturday.

He’s been charged with one count of impersonating a Commonwealth public official during an unsuccessful attempt to obtain stamps and ID badges, bearing the official AFP logo, from a commercial business.

“We are also aware of a shipment of three boxes of replica AFP badges consigned to a house in Cairns. These were found dumped in a local creek and recovered by the Queensland Police,” Donoghoe said.

“Inquiries are continuing to ensure the entire shipment of badges has been recovered.”

Donoghoe downplayed the threat the group posed saying: “We have no evidence that this group has the ability or capability to commit violent acts to overthrow the government”.

But he added: “The behaviour of these people is extremely concerning and we are continuing our investigation to identify any criminal offences as a result.”

A total of six search warrants were executed on Saturday: two in Perth, and one each in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, and Peterborough in South Australia’s mid-north.

More charges are expected in coming days.

The Perth man who has been charged faces a maximum of two years in jail if he’s convicted.

He is scheduled to appear in Perth Magistrates Court on August 16.

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