Feds claim IS chief led bomb plot

Townsville Bulletin - - NATION - CHRIS HOOK, EMMA PARTRIDGE and NICK HANSEN

A TER­ROR plot to bring down a plane in­volv­ing an IED had been as­sem­bled from com­po­nents un­der the in­struc­tion of an Is­lamic State com­man­der, Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice will al­lege.

The com­po­nents to build a chem­i­cal de­vice were al­legedly sent via post from Turkey in one pack­age, deputy com­mis­sioner Michael Phe­lan said yes­ter­day.

The men are ac­cused of plan­ning a ter­ror­ist act be­tween July 16 and July 29 this year, ac­cord­ing to a po­lice charge sheet.

Po­lice also al­lege in court doc­u­ments that Khaled Khayat, 49, of Lakemba, and Mahmoud Khayat, 32, of Punch­bowl, pre­pared or planned a ter­ror­ist act at Lakemba, in Syd­ney’s south­west.

Of­fi­cers claim there are links to a “se­nior mem­ber of IS in Syria”.

“This is one of the most so­phis­ti­cated plots that has ever been at­tempted on Aus­tralian soil,” Mr Phe­lan said.

“We could very well have had a cat­a­strophic event.

“We will be al­leg­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tion com­menced around about April, that one of the two peo­ple who has been charged was put in con­tact with this IS con­troller around about April this year.

“We are not go­ing to as- sume any­thing. I am not go­ing to be talk­ing any names but one of the two gentle­men that has been charged, their brother we are al­leg­ing is a se­nior mem­ber of IS in Syria and he in­tro­duced an­other per­son we are call­ing the con­troller to one of the peo­ple that has been charged.”

The AFP will al­lege the com­po­nents were as­sem­bled here un­der in­struc­tion from that com­man­der and the IED was func­tional when it was al­legedly planted on a rel­a­tive who was due to take an Eti­had flight on July 15.

The at­tempt was aban­doned af­ter the lug­gage proved too heavy aboard the flight.

The un­sus­pect­ing rel­a­tive con­tin­ued to board the plane. He has not yet re­turned to Aus­tralia but is not be­lieved to be a part of the al­leged plot.

The men ap­peared in court yes­ter­day charged with two counts of pre­par­ing or plan­ning for a ter­ror­ist act.

They did not ap­ply for bail and it was for­mally re­fused. They will reap­pear be­fore the same court on Novem­ber 14.

The men’s bar­ris­ter Michael Coro­neos said out­side court his clients should be pre­sumed in­no­cent un­til proven other­wise. to take

“All I can say is they’re en­ti­tled to the pre­sump­tion of innocence,” he said.

“Once the brief of ev­i­dence is served we can as­sess their le­gal po­si­tion.”

Mr Phe­lan con­firmed that two search war­rants were still on­go­ing.

One charge out­lines how the pair al­legedly planned an act be­tween July 16 and 29 and an­other charge al­leges they planned a ter­ror­ist act be­tween April 13 and July 16.

They have been charged over an al­leged plot to bomb an Eti­had Air­ways flight out of Syd­ney.

Both men will face the charges, whichhi h car­ryry a max­i­maxi mum penalty of life in jail.

A se­cond plot al­legedly in­volved an at­tempt to man­u­fac­ture hy­dro­gen sul­phide and re­lease it in a pub­lic place, Mr Phe­lan said.

“This hy­dro­gen sul­phide is very dif­fi­cult to make so I want to make it quite clear that whilst it may have been a hy­po­thet­i­cal plot for these peo­ple to put for­ward we were a long way from hav­ing a func­tional de­vice, there were cer­tainly pre­cur­sor chem­i­cals and some of the com­po­nents had been pro­duced but we were a long way from hav­ing a chem­i­cal dis­per­sion de­vice,” he said.

Com­po­nents of that de­vice were al­legedly found spread across the prop­er­ties searched dur­ing ter­ror raids over the past week.

“We are al­leg­ing that the ex­plo­sive de­vice and com­po­nents of it in­clud­ing the pro­pel­lant did come form over­seas,” he said.

The charged Khayat brothers are two of the four men ar­rested in raids across Syd­ney last Satur­day.

Their brother- in- law, Khaled Merhi, re­mains in de­ten­tion. The fourth man, Khaled Merhi’s brother, Ab­dul Merhi, 50, was re­leased with­out charge on Tues­day.

PLOT THICK­ENS: Ac­cused ter­ror­ist Khaled Khayat; Mahmoud Khayat ( in­set right) is led away by po­lice; and po­lice ( in­set bot­tom right) dur­ing the raids in Syd­ney this week.

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