Police arrested 17 terror suspects in Australia’s two biggest cities on Tuesday ( Nov. 08) in raids. Authorities claimed to have foiled a plot to carry out a catastrophic terror attack. A radical Muslim cleric known for praising Osama bin Laden was charged with masterminding the plot. One suspect was in critical condition after being shot in the neck during a gunfight with police. One of the suspects wanted to die a martyr, a police officer said in court. More arrests are in the offing. ”This country has never been immune from a possible terrorist attack,” Prime Minister John Howard said. ”That remains the situation today and it will be the situation tomorrow.” Abu Bakr — an Algerian-Australian who has said he would be violating his faith if he warned his students not to join the jihad, or holy war, in Iraq — was among nine men who are charged with being members of a terror group. The Prosecutor told the court the nine planned to kill ”innocent men and women in Australia.” ”The members of the Sydney group have been gathering chemicals of a kind that were used in the London Underground bombings,” he said. ”Each of the members of the group are committed to the cause of violent jihad.” He said they underwent military-style training at a rural camp northeast of Melbourne. Australia has never been hit by a major terror attack, but its citizens have repeatedly been targeted overseas, particularly in neighbouring Indonesia, where dozens of Australians have been killed in bomb blasts since 2002. Last week, Howard rushed through Parliament an amendment to terror laws he said would beef up police powers to arrest suspects plotting attacks. The police said the new powers helped them carry out their raids. Opponents say Howard’s strong support for the U.S.-led strikes on Iraq and decision to send troops there and to Afghanistan have made it inevitable Australia will be attacked.