Australia police release man in plane 'terror plot' probe

They are being held for an extended period under special legal conditions while investigators comb through evidence.

Counter-terrorism police have conducted several recent raids, heightening tensions in a country that has had very few domestic attacks.

USA officials, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said a foreign intelligence service had intercepted communications between the plotters in Sydney and members of the Islamic State militant group in Syria.

Since the weekend, passengers have been advised to arrive at the airport two hours early for domestic flights, the extra security checks causing delays of up to 45 minutes at Sydney airport, it was also a similar story in Melbourne.

Khaled Khayat, pictured at Sydney Airport in 2014, is one of the men arrested.


Police said there was no indication the integrity of airport security had been compromised.

On Monday, three males pleaded guilty in the New South Wales state Supreme Court to "conspiracy to commit acts in preparation for a terrorist act or acts" in 2014, a court spokeswoman said, while another two pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

The Australian Federal Police would not confirm media reports the alleged plot may have involved a bomb disguised in a meat grinder or the planned release of poisonous gas inside a plane.

The terrorism threat against airlines will remain at the "probable" level.

"The Etihad Airways aviation security (AVSEC) team is assisting the Australian Federal Police (AFP) with its investigation and the matter is ongoing", an Etihad spokesperson said in a statement to Khaleej Times.


"Other than that, a lot of the measures would be driven by intelligence data or some information that they gathered during the arrest process and they may be looking for something from that", Bishop said.

The concerns came as Sydney's Daily Telegraph cited sources alleging the plot involved using an unwitting passenger to carry a bomb onboard, with Etihad Airways confirming this week it was helping the investigation.

"The threat to aviation from the plot that was uncovered to bring down a plane has been disrupted and contained", Mr Turnbull said.

Australian authorities have said they thwarted a credible terrorist plot to down an airplane by smuggling a device onboard.



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