Suspected plot to bomb plane
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.