Australia ramps up airport screening after police 'disrupt' terrorist plan to 'bring down' a plane

Police man a check point in the Sydney inner suburb of Surry Hills on July 29, 2017.
Four people were arrested in a series of raids across Sydney on July 29 which the prime minister said were carried out to foil plans for terrorist attacks in Australia. / Photo: William West / AFP / Getty Images.

Four people have been arrested in a series of sudden raids across Sydney by police to disrupt what was believed to be a terrorist plot to bring down an aircraft.

Security screening will be ramped up at Australian airports from today, with travellers warned to expect delays and arrive at airports at least two hours before their flight, following the raids in parts of western Sydney and the inner-city suburb of Surry Hills yesterday.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said last night the police raids were executed to “disrupt and prevent plans to undertake terrorist attacks in Australia”.

Australian Federal Police, ASIO and NSW Police were involved in the raids. Police shut down the busy thoroughfare of Cleveland Street in Surry Hills during the operation.

Police working in a laneway off Cleveland Street in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Surry Hills following counter-terrorism raids. Photo: William West / AFP / Getty Images.

The AFP said the plot involved the use of an “improvised device”. A suspicious device was found in a house targeted during the raids, according to a report on Channel 7.

AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin said this morning: “We don’t have a great deal of information on the specific attack, the location, date or time, however, we’re investigating information indicating the aviation industry was potentially a target of that attack.”

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said: “Travellers should be prepared for additional scrutiny at screening points, and while it is important that Australians are aware of the increased threat, be assured we have the finest security and intelligence services in the world and they are working, as is my government, and all our governments around Australia, night and day, to keep Australians safe.”

Turnbull said travellers should “limit the amount of carry-on and checked baggage” they take on flights, amid the heightened security procedures.

“Some of the measures will be obvious to the public, some will not be — those travelling should go about their business with confidence,” Turnbull said.

In a statement, Qantas said passengers should now arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international departures.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the raids were not part of an ongoing police operation but a “rapid response” to information received by policy about the plot.

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