Monday, July 31, 2017

Flight number found during Sydney terror raid

Police have found a flight number for a Jakarta to Sydney route inside a bin at a Lakemba home linked to the alleged plot to blow up an international flight out of Sydney with a crude homemade bomb disguised as a kitchen mincer. 

A letter with the Surry Hills address raided by counter-terrorism police on Saturday was also found in the bin.

The Daily Telegraph witnessed police finding the letter - which links the two properties - inside the unit bin just after 9.30am.

Police found the flight release slip inside the bin, the flight number on the piece of paper was for a Jakarta to Sydney route.

It was placed inside an evidence bag, along with some prescription medicine, as officers continued searching the bins for evidence this morning.

Two would-be father and son terror teams linked by marriage are allegedly behind a plot to blow up the international flight out of Sydney using a homemade bomb disguised as a kitchen mincer.

Until last week the four men -- the fathers aged in their 40s -- were totally unknown to the nation’s counter-terrorism authorities with only one conviction for negligent driving between them.

But that all changed when police picked up a "small piece of intelligence" about the possible "Islamist-inspired" plot to use a crude homemade bomb. It is believed the plot involved smuggling the device onto a flight bound for the Middle East, possibly Dubai, hidden in carry-on luggage.

Material to make a bomb, which was understood to be "ready to go", was allegedly found at a house in Cleveland St, Surry Hills, which police raided on Saturday.

This morning, cops were still closely monitoring the block of terrace housing that backs onto Goodlet Lane, with residents still being forced to show ID and they came and went.

Adan Abrhanowicz, who has worked at neighbouring Cleveland street restaurant Porteno for over a decade, said the terrace was a normal home.

"They live there for 45 or 50 years. I think it’s a good family. I don’t know what’s happened now," he said.

"They are always quiet. On the weekend another brother comes, they have a BBQ, nothing strange. They are always normal."

When the terrace was swarmed by cops on the weekend, he initially thought police were attending the Norfolk pub across the road.

"I thought it was that, or some problem at the mosque. I didn’t think it was something in there," he added.

With the terror suspects under surveillance, police decided to arrest them on Saturday because the risk to public safety was too high.

Five homes were raided in Surry Hills, Punchbowl, Wiley Park and Lakemba.

"There was a serious threat that had to be shut down," one senior officer said.

It is understood the plan was to use wood scrapings and explosive material inside a piece of kitchen equipment, such as a mincing machine.

Police seized several items from one home, including the bottom and top half of a domestic grinder and a box containing a "multi-mincer" used to make sausages. They also took away a number of handwritten notes, two phones, an iPad, two mobile phone SIM packs and vehicle registration and insurance papers.

Material to make a bomb, which was understood to be "ready to go", was allegedly found at the Surry Hills home, where one man was arrested. It is believed his son was also detained at a different address.

The other two men were arrested in Western Sydney, one in Lakemba dressed only in a towel.

Another theory reported last night was that the men were planning to bring down a plane by gassing the passengers. The Australian reported the explosive device would emit a toxic, sulphur-based gas that could kill or immobilise everyone on the aircraft.

The four have not yet been charged, with police applying to the Federal Court to hold them for up to seven days before they have to be charged or released under Commonwealth laws.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the threat of terror in Australia was "very real", as he beefed up security at all major airports around the country. Police are concerned that the men were cleanskins, unknown to them and not associated with known groups.

"With terrorism you can’t wait, you can’t wait to put the whole puzzle together, you do have to go early because if you get it wrong the consequences are severe," NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said.

"You need to make the decision at some stage, when is the right time to go. Both (Australian Federal Police) and NSW Police agreed last night was the right time to go."

AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin said the plan was "Islamist-inspired" and likely targeted the aviation industry.

"We do believe it is Islamic-inspired terrorism. I think this (threat) was credible," he said.

There was shock in Surry Hills, where neighbours said the family had lived there since the 1970s. One neighbour said he was not aware of any extremist links.

"Never in my life would I have expected this ... they’re a very nice family," he said.

At Lakemba, police locked down an entire apartment block, forcing residents to show ID cards to gain entry. Forensic teams carrying ladders and tools searched a mid-level unit and officers were seen digging in the garden. One neighbour said he often saw people in religious robes gather outside.

"You’d have 15 or 20 of them talking outside and they would all go into the unit together," he said.

One couple, who live in the Craig St, Punchbowl, unit raided on Saturday, said police stormed into their home about 5pm and left about 11.30pm. Neither of them was arrested.

The wife said her 66-year-old husband was on his iPad when police arrived and dragged him outside. She said she didn’t know why police had searched their home.

"We’re not bad. We put scarf on, that’s our religion ... you go to the church, I go to the mosque, that’s it," she said.

A man arrested at Renown Ave, Wiley Park, lived in a unit with his brother and nurtured a community of about 15 stray cats, neighbours said.

"He was a strange man, he never looked at you in the eye when you spoke to him," one neighbor said.

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United States Department of Homeland Security says it is closely monitoring the foiled Australia terrorist plot in which extremists planned an attack targeting an airplane 

“We are closely following the terrorism investigation in Australia and assisting our partners,"  Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.

"The Department of Homeland Security remains focused on the persistent and emerging threats to aviation, and we have taken extraordinary steps in recent weeks to raise the baseline of aviation security worldwide, especially to protect flights bound for the United States," the statement said. "We will continue to work with authorities in Australia and elsewhere to confront these threats.”

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Saturday that Australian authorities had thwarted a terrorist plan to "bring down" an airplane through counterterrorism raids.

Authorities arrested four men in connection with the plot, The Australian reported.

While those arrested have not been charged, authorities believe the attack was inspired by the Islamic State, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said.

While Australian authorities know the aviation industry was a target, they are still investigating details of the planned attack such as when and where the individuals intended to carry it out. 

“However, we are investigating information indicating that the aviation industry was potentially a target of that attack," Colvin said, according to the Australian publication.

Australia's justice minister, Michael Keenan, said this plot serves as a reminder that lone wolf attacks are not the only serious threat to their country.

"There is still the ability for people to have sophisticated plots and sophisticated attacks remain a real threat," he said.

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