Two of the four men arrested in Sydney last Saturday night over an alleged plot to bomb a plane have been charged with terrorism offences.
Khaled Mahmoud Khayat, 49, of Lakemba and Mahmoud Khayat, 32, of Punchbowl, were each charged with two counts of acts done in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act, which attracts a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
They are scheduled to appear at Parramatta Court today.
Police released one of the men, aged 50 and who are all related by marriage, on Tuesday without charge.
The fourth man remains in custody as AFP officers searched six premises in the suburbs of Lakemba, Surry Hills, Wiley Park, Bankstown and two in Punchbowl this week over the incident. The AFP will address the media about their ongoing investigation this morning.
Fairfax Media has details about just how close the terrorism plot came to succeeding, revealing that it was “unwittingly” stopped at an airline check-in counter because the luggage carrying the makeshift bomb was overweight.
The discovery was only made after the arrests of the men on the weekend. It’s believed an improvised device was packed inside luggage taken to the check-in counter at the international airport terminal for an Etihad flight bound for Abu Dhabi. The suspected device involved a meat mincer designed to either explode and/or dispense lethal gas.
But the bag wasn’t checked in or taken on the plane after the passenger was queried about its weight. It’s not yet known when the incident occurred. Sources told Fairfax they believe the device might have been detected during security screening had it got any further.
The materials for the device are believed to have been found in the Surry Hills terrace where one of the men was arrested.
Fairfax says British and US spies sent information to Australian counter-terrorism police after communications between members of the alleged Sydney terrorist cell and Islamic State operatives in Syria were intercepted. Their investigations into the group only began last week.
Yesterday prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the security alert level at Australian airports will be restored to its previous status after being given the all-clear by the head of ASIO.
“People should continue to arrive for their flights in accordance with the directions of their airlines,” he said.
Fairfax Media has more details on the alleged bomb plot here.
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