18 April 2018Hot off the Press
Image credit: Richard Vandervord (Wikimedia)
An Islamic State (IS) commander suspected of plotting to blow up a flight from Sydney last year and an Australian IS fighter have been arrested in Iraq.
The arrests of Tarek Khayat, a Lebanese citizen and senior member of the Islamic State group based in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, and his Australian relative Ahmed Merhi, have been shrouded in secrecy because of diplomatic sensitivities surrounding the case.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) say that Tarek Khayat orchestrated last years bomb plot by directing his Sydney-based brothers, Khaled and Mahmoud Khayat, to blow up an Etihad flight carrying 400 people from Sydney to Abu Dhabi on 15 July.
The plot was foiled by chance after a baggage attendant checked the bag the bomb was contained in, only to discover that the bag was seven kilograms over the hand luggage limit.
According to Lebanese tribunal documents, the bombs were hidden within a meat grinder and a Barbie doll.
The brothers were charged with terrorism offences over what the AFP said was, “one of the most sophisticated terror plots attempted on Australian soil.”
The two relatives kept in close contact with some of Australia’s most notorious terrorist suspects from their positions in Syria but appear to have relocated to Iraq after IS was routed from both territories last year.