Police disrupt plot in Australia to ‘bring down an airplane’

AP PHOTO
Bolivarian National Guards charge on anti-government demonstrators in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, two days before the vote to begin the rewriting of Venezuela's constitution. Protesters say the election of a constitutional assembly will allow President Nicolas Maduro to eliminate democratic checks and balances and install an authoritarian single-party system.

AP PHOTO Bolivarian National Guards charge on anti-government demonstrators in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, two days before the vote to begin the rewriting of Venezuela's constitution. Protesters say the election of a constitutional assembly will allow President Nicolas Maduro to eliminate democratic checks and balances and install an authoritarian single-party system.

CANBERRA, Australia — Australian police disrupted a plot to bring down an airplane and arrested four men in raids on homes in several Sydney suburbs, the prime minister said Sunday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that security has been increased at Sydney Airport since Thursday because of the plot. The increased security measures also were extended to all major international and domestic terminals around Australia overnight.

“I can report last night that there has been a major joint counterterrorism operation to disrupt a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane,” Turnbull told reporters. “The operation is continuing.”

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said details were scant on the specifics of the attack, the location and timing.

“In recent days, law enforcement has been become aware of information that suggested some people in Sydney were planning to commit a terrorist attack using an improvised devise,” Colvin said. “We are investigating information indicating the aviation industry was potentially a target of that attack.”

Australia’s terrorist threat level remained unchanged at “probable,” Turnbull said. He advised travelers in Australia to arrive at airports earlier than usual — two hours before departure — to allow for extra security screening and to minimize baggage.

There was no evidence that airport security had been compromised, Colvin said.

“We believe it’s Islamic-inspired terrorism,” Colvin said when asked if the Islamic State group was behind the plot.

Seven Network television reported that 40 riot squad officers wearing gas masks stormed an inner-Sydney house before an explosives team found a suspicious device. Colvin declined to say whether a fully equipped improvised explosive device had been found at that address.

A woman led from a raid by police with her head covered told Nine Network Television: “I love Australia.”