Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties had re­ceived ‘cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion’ from part­ner agen­cies

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

SYD­NEY — Aus­tralia has foiled an Is­lamist-in­spired “ter­ror­ist plot” to bring down an air­plane with an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive, au­thor­i­ties said on Sun­day, af­ter four peo­ple were ar­rested in raids across Syd­ney.

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull said the plot ap­peared to be “elab­o­rate” rather than planned by a lone wolf, as se­cu­rity was beefed up at ma­jor do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional air­ports across the na­tion.

“I can re­port last night that there has been a ma­jor joint counter-ter­ror­ism op­er­a­tion to dis­rupt a ter­ror­ist plot to bring down an air­plane,” Turn­bull told re­porters.

“The threat of ter­ror­ism is very real. The dis­rup­tion op­er­a­tion, the ef­forts overnight have been very ef­fec­tive but there’s more work to do.”

“Our num­ber one pri­or­ity is to keep you safe,” Turn­bull said, “Some of the mea­sures will be ob­vi­ous to the pub­lic, some will not be. Trav­el­ers should be pre­pared for ad­di­tional scru­tiny at screen­ing points.”

Of­fi­cials did not spec­ify if the al­leged plot in­volved a do­mes­tic or in­ter­na­tional flight, but Syd­ney’s Daily Tele­graph re­ported that a lo­cal route had been the ob­jec­tive.

Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice Com­mis­sioner An­drew Colvin de­scribed the plot as “Is­lamic-in­spired”, say­ing four men had been ar­rested in a se­ries of raids across Syd­ney on Sat­ur­day.

“We do be­lieve it is Is­lamic-in­spired ter­ror­ism. Ex­actly what is be­hind this is some­thing we need to in­ves­ti­gate fully,” he said.

Colvin added that lo­cal au­thor­i­ties had re­ceived “cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion from part­ner agen­cies” about the claims but would not elab­o­rate fur­ther or state if the men were on any watch list.

“In re­cent days, law en­force­ment has be­come aware of in­for­ma­tion that sug­gested some peo­ple in Syd­ney were plan­ning to com­mit a ter­ror­ist at­tack us­ing an IED (im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice),” he told re­porters.

He added that sev­eral items “of great in­ter­est to po­lice” had been seized in the raids but po­lice did not yet have a great deal of in­for­ma­tion on the spe­cific at­tack, the lo­ca­tion, date or time. He said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was ex­pected to be “very long and pro­tracted”.

“How­ever, we’re in­ves­ti­gat­ing in­for­ma­tion in­di­cat­ing the avi­a­tion in­dus­try was po­ten­tially a tar­get of that at­tack.”

Colvin would not pro­vide fur­ther de­tails, but the Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion said po­lice found items that could be used to make a home­made bomb in one of the raided homes on Sat­ur­day.

Au­thor­i­ties be­lieved they planned to smug­gle the de­vice onto a plane to blow it up, the ABC added.

Se­cu­rity boost

Four men were ar­rested on Sat­ur­day af­ter armed po­lice stormed homes in at least four neigh­bor­hoods, though their names and ages have not been re­leased and they have not been charged by po­lice.

The Seven Net­work re­ported 40 riot squad of­fi­cers moved on a ter­raced house in the in­ner city sub­urb of Surry Hills, as TV footage showed a man with a ban­dage on his head be­ing led away by au­thor­i­ties, draped in a blan­ket.

Sec­tions of sur­round­ing roads re­mained cor­doned off on Sun­day as foren­sic of­fi­cers and in­ves­ti­ga­tors wrapped up and re­moved items from the house.

Air­line pas­sen­gers have mean­while been asked to ar­rive at least two hours early for do­mes­tic flights and three hours for in­ter­na­tional routes, and to limit their bag­gage.

“Aus­tralia has very strong safe­guards in place at its air­ports; th­ese changes are about mak­ing them even stronger,” Aus­tralian car­rier Qan­tas said.

Air­line Vir­gin Aus­tralia stressed that the ad­di­tional air­port se­cu­rity mea­sures were just “pre­cau­tion­ary” and pas­sen­gers “should not be con­cerned”.

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