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Australia to tighten airport security after foiled terror plot

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A photo taken on July 30, 2017 shows police walking past passengers as they patrol at the Sydney Airport in Australia. (By AFP)

Australia says airport workers in the country will undergo random searches for explosives as part of new security measures designed to reduce the risk of terrorist attacks.

Australia’s Transport Minister Darren Chester made the announcement on Sunday, saying that the new rules would impact more than 14,000 workers, including baggage handlers, caterers, engineers, and maintenance staff.

“These measures strengthen existing controls to ensure airport workers are authorized, properly identified, and appropriately trained before entering secure airside areas,” Chester said in a statement. “They may also be subject to security screening in the course of their duties.”

Chester stressed that the workers would be “randomly selected for explosive trace detection testing and other screening when entering or working in secure airside areas at major airports.”

The announcement came after an allegedly Daesh-inspired plot to smuggle explosives onto a flight at Sydney airport was foiled earlier this year.

“We’re working in an environment where those who seek to do us harm are continually testing security and we’re working to try and prevent anything from occurring,” Chester said.

Australia has been on alert for attacks by home-grown terrorists since last year.

A large number of radicalized European and Western individuals have gone to Syria to fight alongside extremist militants against the Damascus government. There have been fears that the militants may return home battle-hardened and carry out singular terrorist attacks.

In late March 2017, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that hundreds of militants from Southeast Asia had been in the Middle East fighting for Daesh and could soon return to the region as the Takfiri group loses more territory to security forces.

The Australian government has ratified a law criminalizing travel to Daesh strongholds, including those in Syria and Iraq, which are nevertheless increasingly shrinking these days. Individuals charged with the crime could face up to 10 years in prison.

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