Heads up for anyone planning on heading to Australia in the near future. Luggage screening has increased after Australian officials stopped an attempted aircraft attack.
Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s Prime Minister and Peter Dutton, Border Protection Minister, did not comment on the media reports that Islamic extremist plotted to murder passengers on a plane via a homemade bomb with poison gas, which had been made to look like a kitchen mincer. Still, Turnbull did state that a terrorist attack had been planned to bring an aircraft down, and had been disrupted; not providing much more information than that, on the situation.
Travelweek reported that four men, two Australian fathers and sons (of Lebanese descent) were arrested, but no charges have been laid as of yet. Andrew Colvin, Australian Federal Police Commissioner, stated that a court ruling allowed the individuals to be detained, without charges, for seven days after their arrest, thanks to counterterrorism laws. As Colvin told the media, officials believe they stopped a credible and legitimate attempted attack towards an airplane. He only added that the ‘device’ that was used was a threat; not stating if the object was explosive. He did add that while officials have theories in place, they believe that there was an attempt to place a device onto an airplane; but beyond that, there is just speculation.
Turnball has stated that Australians can feel at rest knowing that the country has great intelligence services that moved fast with this incident, one that resulted in the best outcome.
Anonymous sources have been cited in an Australian newspaper stating that the suspects constructed a non-traditional device aimed to emit a sulfur-based toxic gas to immobilize or kill passengers on the plane. The plan was carried out to smuggle said device onto a flight headed to the Middle East, from Sydney. It is being reported that the explosive was located in a house within a Surry Hills’ inner-city suburb.
The PM added that allegedly, the plot was motivated by terrorism via an Islamist extremist.
As such, security has heightened at Australian airports with Border Protection Minister encouraging flyers to arrive at airports at least three hours prior to international flights and two hours prior to domestic flights. Additionally, individuals accompanying travelers are advised to not enter a terminal’s secured access and baggage should be at minimum.
PM Turnbull did not relay the length of time this heighten airport security would be in effect.
This is the 13th stopped plot by Australian officials since the country’s terrorist threat level increased in 2014. Five in total, have been implemented.