Al­leged bombers kept ‘ mule’ in the dark

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­DREW CLENNELL MARK MORRI

AN UNWITTING sac­ri­fi­cial lamb was go­ing to be used by an al­leged ter­ror cell to carry a bomb on to a pas­sen­ger jet out of Syd­ney, News Corp Australia has been told.

The plan came un­stuck some time ago when it was de­ter­mined the ex­plo­sive de­vice they were in­tend­ing to use turned out to be too heavy for cabin bag­gage.

“The per­son was go­ing to be blown up with­out know­ing they were part of a sui­cide mis­sion,” a source said yes­ter­day.

Aus­tralian in­tel­li­gence and po­lice only re­ceived in­for­ma­tion about the al­leged plan early last week af­ter the plans to carry the bomb dis­guised in­side a kitchen meat min­cer on board an Eti­had flight to Abu Dhabi were re­vived.

A ma­jor con­cern for the au­thor­i­ties is that they only found out about it well af­ter plans had been hatched to blow up the air­craft.

None of the three men still be­ing ques­tioned was go­ing to be the one who car­ried the bomb on board, a source said.

Three of the four men ar­rested dur­ing counter- ter­ror­ism raids on five ad­dresses across Syd­ney on Satur­day re­mained in cus­tody yes­ter­day. No one has been charged. A fourth man, Ab­dul Merhi, 50, was re­leased late on Tues­day with­out be­ing charged.

His lawyer Moustafa Kheir said that Mr Merhi was shocked to have been as­so­ci­ated with the al­le­ga­tions.

“It’s just un­fath­omable that he would be as­so­ci­ated with any­thing like this,” he said.

He said Mr Merhi’s fam­ily was also in shock and his life had been “turned up­side down”. “He just wants to go back to as nor­mal life as pos­si­ble now,” Mr Kheir said, adding he would re­view the ac­tions of po­lice.

Khaled Merhi and his brother- in- law Khaled Khayat along with one of Mr Khayat’s fam­ily con­tin­ued last night to be ques­tioned by po­lice, but no charges have been laid.

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