This week, travellers and the industry were shocked to learn about a foiled terror attack on Australia’s aviation industry, namely planting a bomb on a plane.
Raids were conducted over the weekend, after foreign intelligence gave Australian police a tip-off on the alleged attack.
Airport security has been noticably ramped up, with Aussie airlines Qantas and Virgin Australia both issuing statements urging customers to arrive earlier than usual for their flights.
Both Qantas and Virgin issued statements about impending delays, while social media was filled with photos of mammoth queues snaking outside of major airport terminals around the country.
On Wednesday, Etihad confirmed it was assisting police with enquiries, however more dramatic news has come to light about just how close the plot came to being successfully carried out.
According to The Australian, the Australian Federal Police Commissioner said the alleged plot involved two separate terrorist acts.
AFP and NSWP discuss the Two sydney men charged over alleged terrorist acts https://t.co/wgi6mDvFhx
— AFP (@AusFedPolice) August 3, 2017
The first saw men trying to conceal an explosive device onto an Etihad flight bound for the Middle East on July 15, which was, per The Australian, made from military grade explosives sent from Islamic State terrorists via air cargo.
The device was assembled here, before being placed in the baggage of what is believed to be a brother of one of the suspects, before the plan was canned. Per The Oz, reasons for this cancelled attack are still unclear.
However, the men were then instructed by IS to create their second bomb – a “chemical dispersal” device, which would release poisonous gas inside the plane.
But per The Australian, this device was never fully completed, with various parts acquired for its construction prior to raids that saw the men arrested.
AFP Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan called the plot “one of the most sophisticated plots that has even been attempted on Australian soil”.
“There is a little bit of conjecture as to why it didn’t go ahead on the 15th. We certainly would be alleging that it didn’t get passed the pulling on the bags, I didn’t get passed the check-in,” he added, per news.com.au.
Per Fairfax reports, the improvised device got as far as Sydney Airport’s international terminal, with the passenger allegedly unaware of the contents of his bag.
Fairfax reported, “The passenger was queried about the weight of the luggage at the check-in counter and learnt it was too heavy. The bag was never checked in or carried on the plane”.
Per The Australian, Phelan said as soon as police found out about the plot, they constructed a replica of the weapon and attempted to smuggle it aboard a plane as a method of testing airport security.
He said they had a “100 per cent success rate’’, suggesting the device would never have made it on to the plane, per The Oz.