Aus­tralia foils ter­ror plot to bring down air­plane

The Korea Times - - WORLD -

SYDNEY (AFP) — Aus­tralia has foiled an Is­lamist-in­spired “ter­ror­ist plot” to bring down an air­plane with an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive, au­thor­i­ties said 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.”

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.”

The men, whose ages have not been re­leased and have not yet been charged by po­lice, were ar­rested Satur­day when armed po­lice stormed homes in at least four neigh­bor­hoods, in­clud­ing in the in­ner city.

The Seven Net­work re­ported 40 riot squad of­fi­cers moved on one in­ner city home be­fore an ex­plo­sives team found a sus­pi­cious de­vice, al­though po­lice would not con­firm this. TV footage showed a man with a ban­dage on his head and draped in a blan­ket be­ing led away by au­thor­i­ties.

Na­tional broad­caster ABC quoted a woman as say­ing her son and hus­band were ar­rested in the raids, but de­nied they had links to ter­ror­ism.

Turn­bull said the na­tional ter­ror alert level, which was raised on Septem­ber 2014 amid ris­ing con­cerns over at­tacks by in­di­vid­u­als in­spired by or­ga­ni­za­tions such as Is­lamic State, would re­main at prob­a­ble.

Can­berra has in­tro­duced new na­tional se­cu­rity laws since then, while counter-ter­ror­ism po­lice have also made a string of ar­rests.

A to­tal of 12 at­tacks, be­fore the lat­est an­nounce­ment, have been pre­vented in the past few years, while 70 peo­ple have been charged, Jus­tice Min­is­ter Michael Keenan said.

“The pri­mary threat to Aus­tralia still re­mains lone ac­tors, but there’s still the abil­ity for peo­ple to have so­phis­ti­cated plots and so­phis­ti­cated at­tacks still re­main a real threat,” he told re­porters Sun­day.

The prime min­is­ter added that the al­leged plan ap­peared to be “more in that cat­e­gory of an elab­o­rate plot.”

EPA-Yon­hap

Aus­tralian po­lice of­fi­cers are seen at a crime scene in Sydney, Sun­day. Four men were ar­rested af­ter the NSW Joint Counter Ter­ror­ism team con­ducted raids through­out Sydney sub­urbs.

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