Australia Foils Islamist Airline Bomb Plot
August 5, 2017
What You Need To Know
Commercial aviation stakeholders worldwide are on heightened alert following Australia’s disruption of a bomb plot to bring down a passenger airliner. According to Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner of National Security Michael Phelan, the plot, carried out under direct guidance and assistance from the Islamic State, involved an attempt to smuggle an improvised explosive device disguised as a meat mincer onto a Etihad Airlines flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi. Media reports suggest the bag carrying the device was turned away because it was overweight.
Although the initial attempt to smuggle the bomb on board the aircraft occurred on July 15, Australian intelligence services only learned of the plot on July 26 via foreign intelligence services.
Described as one of Australia’s “most sophisticated” militant plots, the device was determined to contain high-grade military explosives that had been shipped to the suspects by air cargo from Turkey. A backup plan to set off a highly toxic hydrogen sulphide bomb on Sydney’s public transport network was also discovered.
Readers are reminded that on multiple occasions over the past year, AlertsUSA has warned that a number of Islamist terror networks including al Qaeda and the Islamic State continue to target the aviation sector for attacks. These threats are of such significance that the Dept. of Homeland Security has raised the baseline for aviation security globally by implementing enhanced security measures, both seen and unseen, at airports in 105 countries around world providing last-point-of-departure flights headed to the U.S.. This includes restrictions on electronic devices larger than a cell phone in the cabins of flights bound for the U.S. from 10 predominantly Muslim nations spread across the Middle East and North Africa. This move is based on gathered intelligence which pointed to attacks in the planning stages.
Readers are also reminded that since the events of Sept 11, 2001, there have a number of attempts at targeting both civilian and commercial aircraft for attacks, including the failed Christmas 2009 attempt to bring down an airliner near Detroitby underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, as well as the October 2010 plot to bring down cargo aircraft using bombs built into printer toner cartridgesbeing shipped to the U.S. from the Middle East.
More recently, Islamist terror organizations have targeted civilian airliners on least three instances in the last three years. On February 2nd of 2016, an explosive device believed to have been built into a laptop computer was detonated on board Daallo Airlines Flight 159 as it flew from Mogadishu, Somalia en route to Djibouti City. Approximately 20 min into the delayed flight, but before reaching cruising altitude, the blast ripped a hole in the starboard, or right-hand, side of the aircraft. In this incident, the only fatality was the bomber, whose burnt body was sucked through the blast hole and discovered near the city of Balad, Somalia. Had the explosion taken place at normal cruising altitude with a fully pressurized cabin, the result would have likely been catastrophic.
And in another incident, on October 31st, 2015, a can of Schweppes pineapple soda was converted into a bomb that was used to down Metrojet Flight 9268 over the northern Sinai Peninsula as it flew from Sharm El Sheikh International Airport in Egypt en route to Saint Petersburg, Russia. All 217 passengers and seven crew members were killed in the incident. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for this attack, even publishing a picture of the explosive device.
AlertsUSA sources within the Department of Homeland Security warn that restrictions on electronic devices allowed into the cabins of flights bound for the U.S. may be extended to other countries outside of the Middle East in the coming months.
AlertsUSA continues to monitor the overall domestic and international threat environment and will immediately notify service subscribers via SMS messages of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any developments which signal a change the overall threat picture for American citizens as events warrant.
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World News Roundup
August 5, 2017
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Travel Security Update
The U.S. Dept. of State is the authoritative federal source for information on the security situation at travel destinations worldwide. With tensions rapidly increasing in most regions, readers planning on international travel, even to such common destinations as Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean Islands, are strongly encouraged to do a little research on the security situation prior to departure.
Latest USGOV Travel Alerts and Warnings
Additional Sources of Travel Guidance
Canada Dept. of Foreign Affairs
Australia Dept. of Foreign Affairs
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.
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