Security has been heightened at airports across Australia after four suspects were arrested on suspicion of planning to bring down an aircraft in an "elaborate" terrorist plot.
"I can report last night that there has been a major joint counterterrorism operation to disrupt a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane," said Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, according to the Associated Press. "The operation is continuing."
Details are still emerging, but the joint operation was reportedly undertaken by the Australian Federal Police, the New South Wales state police and the Australian Security intelligence Agency after credible information emerged that a group of people were planning a terrorist act using an "improvised device." The information, said police, indicated that the aviation industry was a potential target.
The suspects were arrested in separate raids in the Sydney neighborhoods of Surry Hills, Lakemba, Wiley Park and Punchbowl. Police are saying the threat appears to be a coordinated effort and that the four men were apparently linked to an "Islam-inspired plot."
"The primary threat to Australia still remains lone actors, but the events overnight remind us that there is still the ability for people to have sophisticated plots and sophisticated attacks still remain a real threat," said Australia's Justice Minister Michael Keenan, according to the BBC. "In light of this information, it's very important that everyone in Australia remains vigilant."
Keenan also said this is the 13th "significant" threat intercepted by police since the nation's terror levels were increased to "probable" in 2014.
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said police did not yet have specifics, including information on location, airline, date or time. He said he anticipated a "long and protracted" investigation. Colvin also said a "number of items of great interest" have been seized.
As of press time, none of the four men suspects have been charged. Australia's terror level remains at "probable." Officials are encouraging travelers to leave extra time when traveling to the airport.
This story is developing and will be updated as information is received.
Topics From This Article to Explore