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Four men remain in custody following aeroplane terror plot raids

12:30, Tuesday, 01 August, 2017
Four men remain in custody following aeroplane terror plot raids

ONE of the men being held for questioning over an alleged plot to destroy an aircraft flying out of Sydney was a rugby league fan who may have an Islamic State fighter as a close relative.
     Khaled Khayat and three others are being interrogated over the alleged plot to bring down an aircraft, believed to be an Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi, by releasing poisonous gases in a kitchen meat mincer.
     The result could have been an explosion or potentially hundreds of passengers and crew being gassed.
     Khayat, who has no criminal history, has posted pictures of himself online in the jumper of his favourite rugby league team the Canterbury Bulldogs.
     He has not been charged but remains in police custody with three other men who are assisting inquiries.
     His brother is reportedly in Syria with ISIS, The Australian reports, while at least one of the other detained men is believed to have links to senior Australian ISIS fighers in Syria.
     It has also emerged one of one of Khayat’s sons, who has not been charged, attended UNSW where he studied aviation management.
     According to Fairfax, the son posted images online of associates who were pilots, air traffic controllers and airline managers. There is no suggestion the son is involved with the plot his father is alleged to be part of.
     Khayat has previously worked as a butcher in Western Sydney. One person who saw him reguarly, Mohammed Darwiche, told The Daily Telegraph, they were shocked he had been caught up in the investigation.
     “He was very nice, so I am surprised by all of this.”
     Meanwhile, it has emerged Australian police received were tipped off over the alleged conspiracy by foreign intelligence sources on the verge of issuing a public travel warning.
     It’s understood intelligence agencies in the UK and US tipped off Australian forces under the Five Eyes arrangement — which also includes New Zealand and Canada — about the plot that may have been carried out within days.
     The ABC’s 7:30 reports Australian police had hoped to gather more evidence before taking people into custody however the UK government said it would issue a public security threat if the raids did not happen immediately.
     A UK Home Office spokesman said: “We do not comment on intelligence matters.”
     It’s been reported communications intercepted from Syria were the source of the intelligence.The development raises questions for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who refused to comment on whether the plot had been apparently missed by local agencies.
     He said intelligence is a matter of “seamless co-operation” between allies and stitching together snippets of information to build up a bigger picture.
     “We have very fine intelligence services. But, every nation, every nation depends on the work of others,” he said on Monday.
     “We are intensifying, all the time, our collaboration with other countries and other agencies. Because, you know, the threat, there are no borders; I mean, nowhere is far away from anywhere else nowadays.
     “In an age of the internet and the age of social media and the age of over-the-internet messaging applications, Syria is not a long way away from Sydney.”
     The Daily Telegraph reports an Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi was the target of the alleged plot, which would have involved a gas substance rather than explosives as it is more difficult for authorities to detect.
     It’s feared the plot would have been carried out within days, however authorities are confident they have eliminated the immediate threat.
     Long delays are being reported at airports around Australia as increased security measures are established. Travellers are being warned to arrive two hours early for domestic flights, and three hours early for international flights.Over the weekend the New South Wales Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) conducted multiple searches at four addresses in Lakemba, Surry Hills, Wiley Park and Punchbowl.
     Police have been combing the addresses for vital clues and could be seen combing through rubbish bins.
     They have remained tight tipped about their discoveries however it’s believed an improvised bomb may have been hidden inside a meat grinder and gas was involved. A note removed in a clear plastic bag contained the details of a flight from Sydney to Jakarta.A scrap of paper found at one of the properties being searched could give police more information about the alleged plan.
     The small piece of evidence was found in a wheelie bin outside the Lakemba home raided by police over the weekend.
     While searching the address on Monday, police uncovered a flight release slip, which featured a flight code for a Jakarta to Sydney route inside a wheelie bin outside the home.
     According to the Telegraph, a letter addressed to another property that was raided was also collected as evidence by police.
     Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton said he did not want to go into detail but there was a “significant threat”.
     Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described the conspiracy as “a very serious terrorist plot” but refused to elaborate. He also wouldn’t confirm reports an overseas tip-off triggered the raids.
     “Good intelligence, great police work, great investigation, great co-ordination has enabled us to disrupt that plot,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Perth.
     Australian National University criminologist Clarke Jones said the alleged details show the plot was “amateurish” in nature.
     “If it was to be hand luggage, that’s a very crude plan and shows a lack of experience and the fact that they might not have travelled a great extent,” he told AAP.

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