Weapon of choice for airport security
A NEW highly trained terror squad kitted out with MK18 rifles will be permanently based at Brisbane Airport ahead of Christmas as the Federal Government embarks on one of Australia's biggest security crackdowns.
And from April, passengers will be required to carry identification as the Government moves to close a security loophole that has identified too many criminals travelling under fake names.
The Government will fortify Australia's nine major airports with 135 specialised Australian Federal Police officers, who will be trained in the rapid detection of terrorists who are scoping out airports plus behavioural assessment.
Australia's terror threat level remains "probable".
The Courier-Mail can also exclusively reveal intelligence officers are embedded with Qantas and Virgin Australia.
Federal Police Protection Operation Response Teams have been trialled in Brisbane and Canberra and will be set up by Christmas, the busiest time for airports.
The teams of six will also rolled out at Cairns, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Darwin airports over the next 18 months.
Officers will be armed with the legal Daniel Defense MK18 Short-Barrel Rifle.
Explosive and firearm sniffer dogs will also be part of the squad.
The $107 million plan is based on longstanding ASIO threat assessment advice and gives the AFP the weaponry and skills needed to reinforce terminals.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new measures would help protect thousands of Australians who travelled and visited airports every day.
"These highly trained officers run towards dangerous incidents, not away from it, and it is vital they have every resource necessary to help them do their job and protect the community," he said.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said recent global events served as a reminder that the threat posed to the public by terrorism and other crimes had not diminished.
"This national rollout is a necessary and timely measure to counter aviation security threats and will support the dedicated officers of the AFP in protecting our community," he said.
"We know that Australia is at risk. July 2017, a major terrorist plot was disrupted targeting a passenger flight departing from Sydney and just this week our law enforcement agencies have arrested a 21-year-old who is alleged to have been involved in advocating and preparing for terrorist acts."
The AFP and spy agencies have long warned that bikies and other organised criminals travel domestically under fake names.
Unlike other countries, passengers do not need to show ID when flying within Australia.
There will be no random checks.