Po­lice dis­rupt plot in Aus­tralia to ‘bring down an air­plane’

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - ROD MCGUIRK

Po­lice dis­rupted the first al­leged plot in Aus­tralia to bring down an air­plane and ar­rested four men in raids on Syd­ney homes, of­fi­cials said Sun­day.

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull said that se­cu­rity has been in­creased at Syd­ney Air­port since Thurs­day be­cause of the plot. The in­creased se­cu­rity mea­sures also were ex­tended to all ma­jor in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic ter­mi­nals around Aus­tralia overnight.

“I can re­port last night that there has been a ma­jor joint coun­tert­er­ror­ism op­er­a­tion to dis­rupt a ter­ror­ist plot to bring down an air­plane,” Turn­bull told re­porters. “The op­er­a­tion is con­tin­u­ing.” Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice Com­mis­sioner An­drew Colvin said de­tails were scant on the specifics of the at­tack, the lo­ca­tion and tim­ing.

“In re­cent days, law en­force­ment has been be­come aware of in­for­ma­tion that sug­gested some peo­ple in Syd­ney were plan­ning to com­mit a ter­ror­ist at­tack us­ing an im­pro­vised de­vise,” Colvin said.

Deakin Univer­sity se­cu­rity ex­pert Greg Bar­ton said the first plot to tar­get air­craft in Aus­tralia, which is the high­est as­pi­ra­tion of many ex­trem­ists, was a “pretty big thresh­old mo­ment.”

The plot­ters were ap­par­ently mak­ing a per­ox­ide-based ex­plo­sive de­vice rather than us­ing ni­trate-based chem­i­cals that can be de­tected by air­port se­cu­rity swab tests, Bar­ton said.

Manch­ester Arena bomber Sal­man Abedi used such a per­ox­ide-based ex­plo­sive, tri­ace­tone triper­ox­ide, bet­ter known as TATP, to kill 22 con­cert­go­ers in Bri­tain on May 22.

There was no ev­i­dence that air­port se­cu­rity had been com­pro­mised, Colvin said.

“We be­lieve it’s Is­lamic-in­spired ter­ror­ism,” Colvin said when asked if the Is­lamic State group was be­hind the plot.

None of the four sus­pects ar­rested in five raids had been charged, Colvin said.

He would not dis­cuss what charges they might face. None of the ar­rested men worked in the air­port in­dus­try, Colvin said.

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