Australian Federal Police deputy commissioner Michael Phelan and New South Wales Police commissioner Catherine Burn address the media after two 16-year-olds were charged with terrorist-related offenses in Sydney on Oct. 13, 2016
William West—AFP/Getty Images
October 13, 2016 1:15 AM EDT

Australian police charged two 16-year-old boys Thursday with planning to commit a terrorist attack inspired by the Islamic State, authorities in Sydney said.

The teenagers were arrested the day before outside a prayer hall in western Sydney and were allegedly in possession of hunting knives and a note pledging allegiance to ISIS, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reports.

“Had we not been in the right place at the right time … certainly somebody, potentially today … or another day imminently, would be without their life,” Australian Federal Police deputy commissioner Michael Phelan told reporters.

The charges include planning an act of terrorism, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and belonging to a terrorist organization, which carries a penalty of 10 years behind bars.

Both teenagers were already known to Australian counterterrorism police. One of the boys is reportedly the son of a convicted terrorist, AAP reports.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said last month that the threat of terrorist attacks in the country was “real,” and Australians should be “very alert” after ISIS propaganda called for “lone-wolf attacks.”




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