Aus­tralia foils ‘ter­ror plot’ to down air­plane

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Po­lice dis­rupted the first al­leged plot in Aus­tralia to bring down an air­plane and ar­rested four men in raids on Syd­ney homes, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day. 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 ni­trate­based 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 con­cert-go­ers in Bri­tain on May 22. “TATP’s called Mother of Satan be­cause it of­ten kills the bomb maker be­cause it’s very un­sta­ble as it’s mixed,” Bar­ton said. “But if it’s mixed well, it can be very po­tent and a small amount can be enough to bring an air­craft down if it’s done very, very ex­pertly.”

The plan most likely was to take the ex­plo­sive on board in carry-on lug­gage un­less there was a bag­gage han­dler in­volved who could en­sure that a stowed bomb ex­ploded near the fuse­lage where it would be most dam­ag­ing. “The spec­u­la­tion is that the bombers would like to put it in carry-on lug­gage so they can be sure of get­ting it placed near the fuse­lage skin,” Bar­ton said, adding how­ever that putting some­thing in a suit­case is “a lot­tery whether it ends up near the out­side of the lug­gage hold or packed near the mid­dle”.

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. Seven Network tele­vi­sion re­ported that 40 riot squad of­fi­cers wear­ing gas masks stormed an in­ner-Syd­ney house be­fore an ex­plo­sives team found a sus­pi­cious de­vice. Colvin de­clined to say whether a fully equipped im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice had been found at that ad­dress.

A woman led from a raid by po­lice with her head cov­ered told Nine Network Tele­vi­sion: “I love Aus­tralia.” 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.

Aus­tralia’s ter­ror­ist threat level re­mained un­changed at “prob­a­ble,” Turn­bull said. He ad­vised trav­el­ers in Aus­tralia to ar­rive at air­ports earlier than usual - two hours be­fore de­par­ture - to al­low for ex­tra se­cu­rity screen­ing and to min­i­mize bag­gage. The plot was the 13th sig­nif­i­cant threat dis­rupted by po­lice since Aus­tralia’s ter­ror­ist threat level was el­e­vated in 2014, Jus­tice Min­is­ter Michael Keenan said. Five plots have been ex­e­cuted. Since Aus­tralia’s ter­ror­ist threat level was raised in 2014, 70 sus­pects have been charged in 31 po­lice op­er­a­tions, Keenan said. — AP

SYD­NEY: Po­lice col­lect ev­i­dence out­side a house in the in­ner Syd­ney sub­urb of Surry Hills yes­ter­day af­ter it was raided in a ma­jor joint counter-ter­ror­ism op­er­a­tion. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.