Australia airport security elevated over plot
CANBERRA: Security remained heightened in airports around Australia today with more intense screening of luggage after law enforcement officials said they had thwarted a plan to bring down an airliner.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton declined to comment on newspaper reports that Islamist extremists planned to kill the occupants of a plane with poison gas and that a home-made bomb was to be disguised as a kitchen mincer.
Turnbull announced yesterday that “a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane” had been disrupted, but revealed few details.
Four men arrested in raids in Sydney on Saturday – two Lebanese-Australian fathers and their sons – had yet to be charged by today.
Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that the plotters planned to make a bomb from wood shavings and explosive material inside a piece of kitchen equipment such as a mincing machine.
Police raided five homes Saturday and removed a domestic grinder and a mincer used to make sausage, the newspaper said. The plot involved smuggling the device on a flight from Sydney to the Middle East, possibly Dubai, as carry-on luggage.
Fairfax Media reported the bomb was found in a home in the inner-city suburb of Surry Hills, a few doors from the local mosque.
“It’ll be alleged that this was an Islamist extremist, terrorist motivation,” Turnbull said.
Security has been increased at Sydney Airport since Thursday because of the plot and has since been increased in all major Australian international and domestic terminals.
Turnbull would not speculate on how long airport security would remain elevated.
“They will be required for as long as the threat is assessed as requiring them,” Turnbull said. Australia’s terrorist threat level remained unchanged at “probable”.
Australia is a staunch ally of the US and partner in military campaigns in the Middle East. The Islamic State group has highlighted Australia as a western target.
The plot was the 13th disrupted by police since Australia’s terrorist threat level was elevated in 2014. – ANA-AP