Sus­pected plot to bomb plane

The Press - - World -

AUS­TRALIA: Screen­ing at all ma­jor Aus­tralian air­ports has been ramped up and air trav­ellers have been warned to ex­pect de­lays fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of a ter­ror­ist plot to bring down an air­plane with a bomb.

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull, who said ‘‘the threat of ter­ror­ism is very real’’, warned that air­port se­cu­rity has been ‘‘en­hanced and in­ten­si­fied’’ in light of the op­er­a­tion.

Five prop­er­ties in Surry Hills, Punch­bowl, Wi­ley Park and Lakemba were raided on Sat­ur­day evening.

Four peo­ple re­main in cus­tody. Po­lice al­lege the group of Syd­ney men were plan­ning to use an ‘‘im­pro­vised de­vice’’ to tar­get the avi­a­tion in­dus­try, how­ever, no de­tails on a par­tic­u­lar tar­get, lo­ca­tion, time or date have been un­cov­ered.

Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice Com­mis­sioner An­drew Colvin said they had no rea­son to be­lieve air­port se­cu­rity had been ‘‘com­pro­mised’’ but a height­ened state of se­cu­rity has been im­ple­mented.

Turn­bull urged peo­ple to limit carry on and checked in bag­gage and to ar­rive much ear­lier for do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional flights. He said ad­di­tional mea­sures were put in place at Syd­ney Air­port on Thurs­day ahead of the op­er­a­tion. ’’Th­ese and fur­ther mea­sures have been ex­tended to all ma­jor air­ports around the coun­try overnight. Some of the mea­sures will be ob­vi­ous to the pub­lic, some will not be. Trav­ellers should be pre­pared for ad­di­tional scru­tiny at screen­ing points.’’

He said do­mes­tic trav­ellers should be pre­pared to ar­rive at the air­port at least two hours be­fore their flight.

The na­tional ter­ror­ism threat level re­mains at ‘‘prob­a­ble’’, un­changed since 2014.

Po­lice ex­pect to be at a unit in Sproule St, Lakemba, for sev­eral days. Yes­ter­day, foren­sic teams re­moved bags of ev­i­dence and searched the sec­ond-floor home be­long­ing to an older cou­ple and some adult chil­dren.

One neigh­bour cap­tured dra­matic footage of a man in his 30s with just a towel around his waist be­ing taken away in hand­cuffs. The neigh­bour said he had of­ten seen peo­ple in re­li­gious gear com­ing and go­ing from the unit. One night re­cently he saw five men in robes all ar­rive at the house.

An­other neigh­bour, who wanted only to be iden­ti­fied as Sami, said sev­eral homes in the street were evac­u­ated as of­fi­cers smashed their way through a glass en­trance and donned gas masks and oxy­gen tanks while they searched the unit.

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Michael Keenan said the plot was the 13th ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant dis­rup­tion’’ in Aus­tralia and 70 peo­ple have been charged as a re­sult of 31 counter ter­ror­ism oper­a­tions around the coun­try since 2014. ’’The pri­mary threat to Aus­tralia still re­mains lone ac­tors,’’ he said. ’’There is still the abil­ity for peo­ple to have so­phis­ti­cated plots and so­phis­ti­cated at­tacks still re­main a real threat.’’

Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice com­mis­sioner An­drew Colvin said early in­ves­ti­ga­tions sug­gest the plot in­volved the use of an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vise to at­tack the avi­a­tion in­dus­try. ‘‘Searches are on­go­ing. This is the start of a very long and pro­tracted in­ves­ti­ga­tion.’’

NSW Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Mick Fuller urged Syd­ney res­i­dents to go about their busi­ness as nor­mal but be pre­pared for dis­rup­tions. ‘‘Come into the city, take your trains, go to the shops, you shouldn’t be con­cerned in re­la­tion to this. There is not spe­cific in­for­ma­tion that means you should sit at home.’’ - Fair­fax


A man is taken away by po­lice in con­nec­tion to raids made in Syd­ney at the week­end.

Po­lice of­fi­cers at the scene of ter­ror raid in Surry Hills at the week­end.

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