Aus­tralian po­lice say men tried to get IS bomb on plane at Syd­ney air­port

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - KRIS­TEN GELINEAU

SYD­NEY, AUS­TRALIA — Two men fac­ing ter­ror­ism charges in Aus­tralia were in­volved in an aborted at­tempt to place an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice on an Eti­had Air­ways flight out of Syd­ney last month in a plot di­rected by the Is­lamic State group, po­lice say.

One of the men, a 49-year-old from Syd­ney, brought the de­vice to Syd­ney air­port on July 15 in lug­gage he had asked his brother to take with him on the flight — with­out telling the brother that the bag con­tained ex­plo­sives, Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice deputy com­mis­sioner Michael Phelan told re­porters.

But for rea­sons still un­clear, the bag never got past the check-in counter.

In­stead, Phelan said, the 49-yearold man left the air­port with the bag, and his brother con­tin­ued onto the flight with­out it.

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

“If it hadn’t been for the great work of our in­tel­li­gence agen­cies and law en­force­ment over a very quick pe­riod of time, then we could well have a cat­a­strophic event in this coun­try.”

The de­tails Phelan pro­vided on Friday (lo­cal time) are the first that of­fi­cials have re­leased since four men were ar­rested in a se­ries of raids in Syd­ney last week­end.

The 49-year-old man and a 32year-old have been charged with two counts of plan­ning a ter­ror­ist act.

A third man re­mains in cus­tody, while a fourth was re­leased with­out charge.

The 49-year-old’s brother has not been charged in con­nec­tion with the plot, be­cause po­lice be­lieve he had no idea the bag con­tained ex­plo­sives, Phelan said. Po­lice have not re­leased the names of any of the sus­pects.

The com­po­nents for the de­vice, in­clud­ing what Phelan de­scribed as a “mil­i­tary-grade ex­plo­sive,” were sent by a se­nior Is­lamic State mem­ber to the men in Syd­ney via air cargo from Turkey.

An Is­lamic State com­man­der then in­structed the two men who have been charged on how to as­sem­ble the de­vice, which po­lice have since re­cov­ered, Phelan said.

RICK RY­CROFT, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice deputy com­mis­sioner Michael Phelan, right, dis­cusses de­tails of the al­leged plot to bring down a plane.

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