Tony Abbott Boosts Counter-Terrorism Efforts at Airports; Authorities Arrest 'Person of Interest'

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By Reissa Su | August 28, 2014 6:09 PM EST

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has ordered the set-up of new counter-terrorism units at two airports. Mr Abbott had announced to the Parliament that the units began their operation at Sydney and Melbourne airports last week, according to a BBC report.

REUTERS/Justin Tallis/Pool
Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (R) walks with Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in central London August 12, 2014.

The prime minister said counter-terrorism units were in place when one individual was intercepted and tagged as a "person of interest." Reports said Australia's spy agency revealed that 15 Australians were believed to have died while fighting alongside Islamic State militants in the Middle East.

Mr Abbott did not reveal anything more about the person who was held at the airport and declined to give information about his destination. In a move to widen Australia's border security, the prime minister declared that all of the country's international airports will have their own counter-terrorism units. About 80 border officers will be added to monitor people whose names appear on security watch lists.

Mr Abbott has reiterated that his government will do "everything necessary" to keep Australia safe.

Australia has signed an agreement with the United States to share any information about the identities of foreigners arriving in airports. Mr Abbott has previously prevented Australians from travelling to areas where extremist groups are currently active.

According to reports, Australia is open to the possibility of supporting airstrikes in Iraq in an international effort to stop ISIS.  

Following the news of U.S. journalist James Foley's beheading, Mr Abbott warned that such barbaric acts of ISIS could happen in Australia, the U.S. and the UK. He had described the militant group as "the most effective terrorist movement the world has yet seen." The group has been reportedly using social media to attract more recruits to join the fighting in Iraq and Syria, reports said.

The prime minister is aware of the possibility that terrorist activity in the country might increase. Jemaah Islamiah, the Indonesian group behind the Bali bombings, is reportedly supporting ISIS.

David Irvine, director general of Australia's spy agency, revealed told reporters that about 100 or more people in Australia were "actively supporting" ISIS. 

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(Photo: REUTERS/Justin Tallis/Pool / )
Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (R) walks with Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in central London August 12, 2014.
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