The Australian Reports: Terror raids Sydney: four men plotted to blow up plane, PM says

By JULIAN DRAPE

The Australian
9:19 AM July 30, 2017

Source: theaustralian.com.au

Australian authorities have foiled a terrorist conspiracy to bring down an aeroplane using an improvised explosive device.

Four men are in custody after NSW and Australian federal police officers raided properties in the Sydney suburbs of Surry Hills1)Surry Hills is an inner city, eastern suburb of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Surry Hills is immediately south-east of the Sydney central business district in the local government area of the City of Sydney WIKIPEDIA., Lakemba2)Lakemba is a suburb in south-western Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Lakemba is located 15 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of the Canterbury-Bankstown Council. SEE WIKIPEDIA., Wiley Park3)Wiley Park is a suburb in south-western Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Wiley Park is located 17 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district in the Canterbury-Bankstown Council. SEE WIKIPEDIA. and Punchbowl4)Punchbowl is a suburb in the south-western Sydney region, 17 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. At the 2011 census, Punchbowl had a population of 18,429. SEE WIKIPEDIA. on Saturday afternoon.

 

“a terrorist plot to bring down an aeroplane”.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the operation disrupted

“Be assured that our number on priority is to keep you safe,” he told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

“That is our focus, that is our determination.” Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin  said security agencies became aware “in recent days” of a plan to commit a terrorist act using an improvised device.

“At this stage, we don’t have a great deal of information on the specific attack, the location, date or time,” he said.

“However, we are investigating information indicating that the aviation industry was potentially a target of that attack.” The plot, Mr Colvin said, was believed to be Islamic State-inspired. The four men have not yet been charged and have already been in custody for 12 hours. Authorities will need to apply to a magistrate to hold them for longer as the investigation continues.

Mr Colvin said additional searches could take “many more days” and while he confirmed officers found items of interest during the initial raids, he declined to go into detail.

 

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Australian Federal Police’s Andrew Colvin face the media today. Picture: AAP

Asked about the capability of the group to carry out the plot, he replied: “We’ve taken this threat very seriously”.

Mr Colvin added: “That in itself you should infer that we think this was credible and there was an intention, and there was quite possibly a capability as well.” The alarming plot triggered an “intensifying” of security measures at Sydney Airport on Thursday which has since been extended to all domestic and international departure points.

The prime minister warned passengers should arrive two hours before their flight and minimise carry-on and checked baggage.

Police with bags of evidence outside an address in the Sydney suburb of Lakemba. Picture: Damian Shaw

“Some of the measures will be obvious to the public, some will not be,” Mr Turnbull said.

When asked if the men had any connection to the airports, such as employment, Mr Colvin said the integrity of airport security was not compromised. Mr Colvin said while terrorists were becoming “very ingenious” about ways to bypass security, he was confident existing measures at airports would have stopped the men from carrying out their plan.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said it was the 13th alleged conspiracy thwarted since the terror threat level was raised to “probable” in 2014. Since that time, a total of 70 people have faced charges as a result of 31 operations.

“The primary threat to Australia still remains lone actors,” Mr Keenan said. 

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“The primary threat to Australia still remains lone actors,” Mr Keenan said.

But the events overnight remind us that there is still the ability for people to have sophisticated plots and sophisticated attacks remain a real threat. 

A car is taken away at Punchbowl, in Sydney’s southwest. Picture: Steve Tyson

Raids across Sydney

Heavily armed police raided properties in four Sydney suburbs in an operation Mr Turnbull said was designed to stop “terrorist attacks in Australia”.

Australian Federal Police, NSW Police and the domestic spy agency ASIO jointly carried out the major counter terrorism operation on Saturday afternoon in the Sydney suburbs of Surry Hills, Lakemba, Wiley Park and Punchbowl.

“Four men have been taken into custody and are assisting police with their inquiries,” the AFP and NSW Police said in a joint statement following the raids.

The raids were in relation to a terrorist cell “and a bomb plot involving aircraft”.

The Seven Network reported 40 riots squad officers stormed the Surry Hills terrace before the explosives team found a suspicious device. TV footage shows a man with a bandage on his head and draped in a blanket being led away by authorities.

Joint counter terror and AFP operation in Sydney on Saturday evening. (Picture: Channel 9 News)

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been briefed on the progress of the operation by security agency heads.

“These operations are designed to disrupt and prevent plans to undertake terrorist attacks in Australia,” the prime minister said in a statement. “My number one priority, and that of my government, is the safety and security of all Australians, and the public should be reassured that our security and intelligence agencies are working tirelessly to keep us safe.” The family who lived in the raided house on Cleveland Street in Surry Hills has been described as “perfectly nice and normal people” by a neighbour whose property backs onto theirs.


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“We knew them to say hello to and they seemed nice,” the woman in her early 30’s, who didn’t want to be identified, told AAP.

An elderly couple lived in the home, the neighbour said, and they had adult children.

The neighbour came home while the raid was underway and said there were “heaps” of police at the scene.

Cleveland Street remains closed in both directions in Surry Hills between Elizabeth and Crown streets.

“Motorists are advised to avoid the area or allow plenty of extra travel time,” a Transport Management Centre spokesman said in a statement.

Police speak to passersby as they man a checkpoint in the inner Sydney suburb of Surry Hills. Picture: AFP

AAP

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References   [ + ]

1. Surry Hills is an inner city, eastern suburb of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Surry Hills is immediately south-east of the Sydney central business district in the local government area of the City of Sydney WIKIPEDIA.
2. Lakemba is a suburb in south-western Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Lakemba is located 15 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of the Canterbury-Bankstown Council. SEE WIKIPEDIA.
3. Wiley Park is a suburb in south-western Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Wiley Park is located 17 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district in the Canterbury-Bankstown Council. SEE WIKIPEDIA.
4. Punchbowl is a suburb in the south-western Sydney region, 17 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. At the 2011 census, Punchbowl had a population of 18,429. SEE WIKIPEDIA.

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