Aussie po­lice foil twin ter­ror plots

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

SYD­NEY — A man in­structed by the Is­lamic State to bring down an Eti­had Air­ways flight tried to use an un­sus­pect­ing pas­sen­ger to carry a bomb on board, with a sec­ond poi­son gas plot also in the works, Aus­tralian po­lice al­leged on Fri­day.

The im­pro­vised de­vice, us­ing “high mil­i­tary-grade ex­plo­sive”, was due to be smug­gled onto a July 15 flight from Syd­ney, but the at­tempt was aborted be­fore they reached se­cu­rity.

Two men — Khaled Khayat and Mah­moud Khayat — have been charged with ter­ror­ism of­fenses and were re­fused bail on Fri­day, with a third still be­ing ques­tioned.

Po­lice claim one of them planted the bomb in the pas­sen­ger’s lug­gage. Lo­cal re­ports said the lug­gage be­longed to the man’s own brother.

“We will be al­leg­ing the per­son who was to carry the IED had no idea he was car­ry­ing an IED,” said Fed­eral Po­lice Deputy Com­mis­sioner Michael Phe­lan.

“There is a lit­tle bit of con­jec­ture as to why it didn’t go ahead. It didn’t get past the check-in.”

Po­lice are work­ing on the the­ory that it was called off be­cause the de­vice may have been too heavy.

Au­thor­i­ties also foiled a sec­ond al­leged plot in­volv­ing a “chem­i­cal dis­per­sion de­vice”, de­signed to re­lease hy­dro­gen sul­phide.

Hy­dro­gen sul­phide is highly toxic, and of­ten fa­tal for peo­ple ex­posed to it.

“Not only have we stopped the IED that was be­lieved to go on the plane but we have also com­pletely dis­rupted the in­tended chem­i­cal dis­per­sion de­vice,” Phe­lan said.

The sec­ond plan was hatched af­ter the first one failed, po­lice al­leged, and was not nec­es­sar­ily tar­geted at a plane.

“They were talk­ing about crowded closed spa­ces, you know, po­ten­tially pub­lic trans­port, and so on,” Phe­lan said, but added that “they got nowhere near mak­ing one”.

The plot was or­ches­trated by “a se­nior mem­ber of the Is­lamic State” based over­seas, he added.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions with ex­trem­ists be­gan in April and they sent com­po­nents and pro­pel­lants through in­ter­na­tional cargo from Turkey, po­lice said.

Over­seas as­sis­tance

The men were then directed on how to build a bomb that would have caused “sig­nif­i­cant dam­age”.

“With as­sis­tance from the IS com­man­der, the ac­cused as­sem­bled the com­po­nents into what we be­lieve was a func­tion­ing IED to be placed on that flight,” said Phe­lan.

The des­ti­na­tion of the flight was not re­vealed, although re­ports sug­gested it was Abu Dhabi.

Eti­had ear­lier this week con­firmed it was work­ing with au­thor­i­ties in Aus­tralia on their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Po­lice would not re­veal who the IS link was but said it will be al­leged the men were in­tro­duced to him by a rel­a­tive who is a se­nior IS mem­ber in Syria.

Se­cu­rity was tight­ened at do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional air­ports across Aus­tralia af­ter four men were ar­rested in raids in Syd­ney on Satur­day over what Phe­lan called “one of the most so­phis­ti­cated plots that has ever been at­tempted on Aus­tralian soil”.

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