Australia steps up airport security after 'terror plot'

Four arrested in Sydney over alleged plan to attack an aircraft

australia terror plane plot
(Image credit: William West/AFP/Getty Images)

Security at Australia's airports remains high following raids in Sydney over what police described as a "credible attempt to attack an aircraft".

Four men were arrested under counter-terrorism laws after an alleged Islamic-inspired plot to detonate a bomb, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said.

"In recent days, law enforcement had become aware of information that suggested some people in Sydney were planning to commit a terrorist attack using an IED [improvised explosive device]," he added.

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"At this time, we don't have a great deal of information on the specific attack, the location, date or time. However, we are investig­ating information indicating that the aviation industry was potentially a target of that attack."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the raids were part of a "major joint counter-terrorism operation" and that extra security had been put in place at domestic and international airports.

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The four men were allegedly constructing a "non-traditional" device to kill the occupants of the plane with poisonous gas, The Australian reports.

According to ABC, "the group allegedly planned to conceal the bomb in a kitchen meat grinder before smuggling it onto a plane".

Justice minister Michael Keenan said the plot was the 13th significant threat disrupted by police since Australia's terror threat level was elevated to "probable" in 2014. Five plots have been successfully carried out over the same period.

"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 added.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the most recent attack at a Melbourne apartment building last month, which resulted in the death of one man and three police officers wounded.

However, Greg Barton, a security expert at Deakin University, told ABC News this weekend's foiled plot was the first to target aircraft in Australia and therefore represented a "pretty big threshold moment".

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