Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says anti-terrorism raids carried out in Sydney yesterday “disrupted” an alleged plot to bring down an aircraft.
Four men were arrested after the Australian Federal Police, New South Wales Police and ASIO raided homes in the inner-city suburb of Surry Hills, and the south-western suburbs of Lakemba, Wiley Park and Punchbowl.
The AFP said the operation related to information about the use of an “improvised device”.
“We don’t have a great deal of information on the specific attack, the location, date or time, however, we’re investigating information indicating the aviation industry was potentially a target of that attack,” AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin said.
Mr Turnbull said the “major counter-terrorism operation” was ongoing, and extra security measures have been put in place at major airports.
He said those with plans to travel should do so with confidence, but allow extra time for security screening because of the extra security.
“Some of the measures will be obvious to the public, some will not be — those travelling should go about their business with confidence,” Mr Turnbull said.
“The Office of Transport Security has advised security screening will take longer.
“Travellers should arrive at terminals at least two hours before flights to allow ample time for screening.
“They should limit the amount of carry-on and checked baggage, as this will help to ensure that security screening is efficient.”
Mr Turnbull said the overnight operation was continuing.
“This is an example of the outstanding work that is conducted by the joint counter-terrorism team, which consists of the Australian Federal Police, the New South Wales Police, ASIO, and the New South Wales Crime Commission,” he said.
“The tight cooperation and collaboration between our intelligence and security agencies is the key to keeping Australians safe from terrorism.
“Last night’s disruption operations are a very good example of the way in which our agencies are delivering our commitment to keep Australians safe.”
A woman who told the ABC her son and husband were arrested after her Surry Hills house was raided denied they had any links to terrorism.
“I love Australia,” she said as she was accompanied to a waiting car by police.
Since 2014, 70 people have been charged as a result of 31 counter-terrorism operations around the country.
Australia’s terror threat level remains at probable.