TER­ROR PLOT

Po­lice dis­rupt plot in Aus­tralia to ‘bring down an air­plane’

West Hawaii Today - - Front Page - BY ROD MCGUIRK

CAN­BERRA, Aus­tralia — Aus­tralian po­lice dis­rupted a plot to bring down an air­plane and ar­rested four men in raids on homes in sev­eral Syd­ney sub­urbs, the prime min­is­ter said Sun­day.

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. “We are in­ves­ti­gat­ing in­for­ma­tion in­di­cat­ing the avi­a­tion in­dus­try was po­ten­tially a tar­get of that at­tack.”

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.

There was no ev­i­dence that air­port se­cu­rity had been com­pro­mised, Colvin said.

“We be­lieve it’s Is­lam­icin­spired 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.

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.

“The pri­mary threat to Aus­tralia still re­mains lone ac­tors, but the events overnight re­mind us that there is still the abil­ity for peo­ple to have so­phis­ti­cated plots and so­phis­ti­cated at­tacks still re­main a real threat,” Keenan said.” In light of this in­for­ma­tion, it’s very im­por­tant that ev­ery­one in Aus­tralia re­mains vig­i­lant.”

SAM MOOY/ AP PHOTO

Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice and NSW Po­lice of­fi­cers work in the Surry Hills sub­urb of Syd­ney, Aus­tralia on Sat­ur­day.

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