Australia: Security at all major airports on alert after police foil plot to blow up a plane

Security at all major airports across Australia has increased after police foiled a plot to “bring down” a plane in a terrorist attack.

Four men were taken into custody last night when heavily armed counter-terrorism officers raided four Sydney properties over the alleged plot.

Mr Turnbull said increased security measures have been placed on all Australian airports, although the terror threat level remains the same at probable.

“I can report last night that there has been a major joint counter-terrorism operation to disrupt a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane,” the Australian leader told reporters

The additional security has been put in place at domestic and international terminals. Mr Turnbull is advising travellers to arrive at the airport two hours before their flight.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said officers became aware people in Sydney were planning to commit a terrorist attack using an “improvised device”.

Commissioner Colvin said the four men in custody had not been charged by police.

Police believed the attack would target the Australian aviation industry at a major airport.

Australian Federal Police, NSW Police and the domestic spy agency ASIO jointly carried out anti-terror raids yesterday afternoon in Surry Hills, Lakemba, Wiley Park and Punchbowl.

At least 40 riots squad officers stormed a Surry Hills terrace before the explosives team found a suspicious device.

The family who lived in the raided house on Cleveland Street in Surry Hills have been described as “perfectly nice and normal people” by a neighbour.

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

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.

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.

“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.”