Etihad Airways helps Australian police with plane attack probe
Australian Federal Police on Monday beefed up security at Australian airports after four men believed to be plotting an assault were arrested last weekend in raids across Sydney
Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways said on Tuesday it was assisting the Australian authorities with an investigation into an alleged "Islamic-inspired" plot to bring down a plane.
Australian Federal Police on Monday beefed up security at Australian airports after four men were arrested last weekend in raids across Sydney. The men — reportedly Lebanese-Australian with links to ISIL — have not yet been charged.
"The Etihad Airways aviation security team is assisting the Australian Federal Police with its investigation and the matter is ongoing," said an Etihad spokesman. "Etihad is complying fully with the enhanced security measures at airports in Australia and monitoring the situation closely."
The name of the airline that was allegedly targeted has not yet been confirmed.
In an earlier statement, Etihad Airways had urged its passengers travelling to Australia to arrive at the airport early in light of the new security measures.
“While there is no direct impact on Etihad Airways’ operations, guests travelling from Australia are advised to arrive at the airport early and expect a longer process than usual,” it said. “The process may involve physical baggage checks prior to check-in and increased checks at security screening points.”
Media reports have said the alleged plot may have involved a bomb or plan to release a poisonous gas inside the aircraft. Police did not specify how the suspects were going to bring down the plane, but said the plot involved an “improvised device".
US officials told Reuters that a foreign intelligence service intercepted communications between the plotters and ISIL members in Syria. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity and refused to name the intelligence service.
One US official said the plot was “fairly well along” when it was disrupted by Australian authorities. Another official said the target seemed to have been a commercial flight from Sydney to the Gulf.
Australia’s immigration ministry said stricter screening of passengers and luggage will remain in place indefinitely.
"The security measures at the airports will be in place for as long as we believe they need to be, so it may go on for some time yet," said immigration minister Peter Dutton.
"It may be that we need to look at the security settings at our airports, in particular our domestic airports, for an ongoing enduring period."
In September 2014, Australia’s national terror alert level was raised amid fears of attacks inspired by groups, such as ISIL.
According to Agence France-Presse, 13 plots — including the most recent — have been prevented in Australia in the past few years and 70 people charged.
A number of attacks have also taken place in the country, including the Sydney cafe siege in 2014 that resulted in the death of two hostages held by a gunman.
Updated: August 1, 2017 09:23 AM