Aust coy on Lebanon's terror plot claims


Australian officials have charged Khaled and Mahmoud Khayyat with two counts of planning a terrorist act, and have said the men began communicating with ISIS in April.

Machnouk said that one of the brothers was supposed to detonate explosive devices some 20 minutes after the plane had departed.

'Our tip said if they were going back to the airport, they would let it off in there if they couldn't get it on a plane, ' the source said.

At the time, Australian Federal Police (AFP) Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said some components for the bombs had been sent through worldwide cargo from Isis members to the men in Australia.

Police allege one of them sent his unsuspecting brother to catch an Etihad Airways flight from Sydney on July 15 carrying a home-made bomb, which was reportedly disguised as a meat mincer, built at the direction of a senior commander in the militant ISIL group.

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Lebanon's interior minister, Nouhad Machnouk, told a Saudi Arabia-owned TV channel that four Lebanese-Australian brothers, including one being held in Lebanon, were behind the plan, Sky News reported. "Intelligence branch followed on the case and found that Amer was involved in this act and it appears that he was supposed to carry it out".

The plan was aborted before a "high-end" explosive in a piece of luggage taken to Sydney's airport was carried through security.

Asked whether the Sydney-based operation would have been successful if the luggage hadn't exceeded the weight limit, he replied: "Probably, yes".

It's previously been suggested Australian authorities only knew of the plot after the event when they were tipped off by foreign intelligence services.

"When four Lebanese brothers in Australia decide to blow up an Emirati jet this means that the whole world should work together to fight terrorism".

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"The [targeted] plane had 120 Lebanese on board in addition to other nationalities", Machnouk said.

On Tuesday, Australian police said it was not appropriate to comment further on the details of a current investigation that was also before Australian courts.

"We have primary information as the investigation is under way in Australia", he said, adding: "The number of Lebanese people belonging to terrorist groups in Syria is less than 300".

Machnouk believes the planned attack would have been in response to the UAE and Australia's participation in a US-led coalition fighting Isis in the Middle East.

"The Etihad Airways aviation security team is assisting the Australian Federal Police with its investigation and the matter is ongoing".

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