Australia foils Islamist-inspired terror attack

Australia arrests four people suspected of plotting to bring down an airplane.

Ben Ariel,

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Australia has foiled an Islamist-inspired "terrorist plot" to bring down an airplane with an improvised explosive, authorities said on Saturday night, after four people were arrested in raids across Sydney.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the plot appeared to be "elaborate" rather than planned by a lone wolf, according to AFP.

"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," Turnbull told reporters.

"The threat of terrorism is very real. The disruption operation, the efforts overnight have been very effective but there's more work to do," he added.

Officials did not specify if the alleged plot involved a domestic or international flight, but Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported that a local route had been the objective.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin described the plot as "Islamic-inspired", saying four men had been arrested in a series of raids across Sydney on Saturday.

"We do believe it is Islamic-inspired terrorism. Exactly what is behind this is something we need to investigate fully," he said, according to AFP.

Colvin added that local authorities had received "credible information from partner agencies" about the claims but would not elaborate further or state if the men were on any watch list.

The men, whose ages have not been released and have not yet been charged by police, were arrested Saturday when armed police stormed homes in at least four neighborhoods.

The Seven Network reported that 40 riot squad officers moved on one inner city home before an explosives team found a suspicious device, although police would not confirm this.

Australia raised the terror threat alert level to high in September of 2014.

That month, Australia arrested 15 terror suspects of an Islamic State (ISIS) cell that was planning to behead a random member of the public in a campaign of terror.

In December of 2016, police in Australia arrested seven suspects who were allegedly planning a series of bomb attacks in the heart of Melbourne on Christmas Day and were inspired by ISIS.

Last month, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack in Melbourne.

Turnbull said the national terror alert level would remain at probable.

A total of 12 attacks, before the latest announcement, have been prevented in the past few years, while 70 people have been charged, Justice Minister Michael Keenan said.

"The primary threat to Australia still remains lone actors, but there's still the ability for people to have sophisticated plots and sophisticated attacks still remain a real threat," he told reporters, according to AFP.

The prime minister added that the alleged plan appeared to be "more in that category of an elaborate plot".


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