IS-backed terrorists plotted to blow up Etihad Airways plane in Australia, say police

Sydney: A senior Islamic State commander directed a group of Australian men to build a bomb destined for an Etihad Airways flight out of Sydney, police alleged on Thursday.

The improvised explosive device was due to be smuggled onto the 15 July service, but the attempt was aborted before they reached security. Two men have been charged, with a third still being questioned.

"This advice was coming from a senior member of the Islamic State," Australian federal police deputy commissioner Michael Phelan said, referring to him as a "commander" based overseas.

Police also foiled a second alleged plot involving a "chemical dispersion device", designed to release highly toxic hydrogen sulphide, but this was in the early stages. "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," said Phelan.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The IS leader sent components through international cargo to the men, then directed them on how to build a bomb, police claimed. "With assistance from the Islamic State commander, the accused assembled the IED into what we believe was a functioning IED to be placed on that flight," said Phelan.

"There is a little bit of conjecture as to why it didn't go ahead. It didn't get past the check-in." Phelen referred to it as "one of the most sophisticated plots that has ever been attempted on Australian soil".

Four men were arrested during raids in Sydney on Saturday.

Two of them — aged 32 and 49 and reportedly brothers — were each charged late on Thursday with two counts of "acts done in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act" and are due in court on Friday.

One man has been released without charge and another is still being questioned.

Updated Date: Aug 04, 2017 08:55 AM

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