Counter-terrorism officers have carried out 75,906 “real-time assessments” on people passing through Australian airports in the seven months to February.
A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told Fairfax Media that eight units positioned across multiple Australian airports are assessing more than 400 people every day.
The spokesperson said the Border Force Counter-Terrorism Unit had “successfully intercepted a number of people of national security concern”, but did not say how many of the 75,906 were found to be legitimate risks.
The Customs website also reads: “They have also found evidence of movements or attempted movements of large sums of cash, and images and material of an extremist nature. Some cases have resulted in the imposition of infringement notices, while others are the subject of ongoing investigations.”
During the assessments, suspicious travelers are singled out and interviewed to determine if they are a national security risk.
Fairfax reports that in its first three weeks of operation, the counter-terrorism teams in Sydney and Melbourne reportedly identified 11 terror suspects, seized three devices containing extremist material, denied one Malaysian man entry to Australia and pulled dozens of people off flights and placed them under surveillance.
The Border Force Counter-Terrorism Unit, which began standing up interim teams on August 22, 2014, will continue to operate over the next four years, employing 80 specialist officers at a cost of $50 million.
The unit is part of the Government’s $630 million counter-terrorism package, of which Customs and Border Protection will receive $150 million to implement a number of measures including the establishment of Border Force Counter-Terrorism Unit teams at Australia’s eight major international airports.
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