Australian police prevented an attack that could have taken down an Etihad Airways flight from Sydney Airport to Abu Dhabi scheduled for July 15. In addition to planning to blow up the plane, the terror suspects had been working in concert with Daesh operatives to detonate a chemical weapon in a public space, police said.
The plan to explode a lethal hydrogen sulfide gas bomb was hatched after the plane bomb plot failed. The chemical dispersion device has been neutralized, officials said.
The bomb never reached the airplane. Hundreds of livers were saved. The bomb’s components allegedly originated in Turkey, officially an ally, albeit an uneasy one, in the coalition fight against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, before reaching Sydney on an international cargo flight. "Components of this IED were sent through international air cargo by the [Daesh] operatives through to the accused men here in Australia," Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan told reporters during a Friday morning news conference.
The Daesh terrorists abroad assisted the now-detained suspects in assembling what police believe "was a functioning IED to be placed on" flight EY451.
It has just been revealed that although the bomb never made it onto the plane, one of the suspects brought the device back home the same day. Australian officials had no clue the bomb was still live until almost two weeks later, after receiving intelligence from UK and American security agencies, the Daily Mail Australia reports.
Khaled Khayat and Mahmoud Khayat, who are brothers, face lifetime prison sentences for "acts done in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act," and will attend a court hearing on November 14. Phelan called their plot "the most sophisticated" terrorist plan ever hatched on Australian soil.
Police said it was concerning that Daesh had been able to ship explosive parts Down Under, even though Australia is not a "particularly juicy target" for the international terror group, according to terrorism theorist Max Abrahms, a researcher at Northeastern University. "[Daesh] is the least selective terrorist group in terms of its target selection," Abrahms told Sputnik, but "there has never been a terrorist group to strike in so many different countries."
"There’s literally no country in the world where [Daesh] doesn’t want to strike,” Abrahms noted. “The decentralization of recruits and targets is part of its playbook as reflected in the views of ‘The Management of Savagery’ and some of Al-Suri’s writings.” Mustafa Al-Suri was born in Aleppo, Syria, and has long been suspected of laying parts of the ideological groundwork for jihadist groups like Al Qaeda and Daesh.
“I do want to remind everyone that this is the 13th time, because of the excellence of our law enforcement agencies, that we have been able to stop a terrorist attack from occurring on Australian soil in the past three years,” Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan said Friday.