Australia

Australian brothers guilty of IS plane bomb plot

A police officer in a fluoro yellow vest faces a flight departure screen in Sydney Airport Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Authorities increased security at Australian airports after the plot was foiled

Two men linked to the Islamic State (IS) group have been convicted in Australia of plotting to blow up a flight using a concealed bomb.

Mahmoud Khayat, 34, aimed to bring down the Sydney to Abu Dhabi flight in July 2017, a jury found on Thursday.

His brother, Khaled Khayat, 51, was found guilty of the same offence in May. Both men had pleaded not guilty.

Their plan failed when the bag carrying the bomb could not be checked in at the airport because it was overweight.

Prosecutors said they had aimed to blow up the flight carrying 400 passengers with military grade explosives concealed inside a meat grinder.

After it failed, the brothers also planned to carry out a chemical gas attack in Sydney, prosecutors said. They were arrested 11 days after the airport incident.

A third brother, Amer Khayat, had carried the bag to Sydney Airport but was not part of the plot. Authorities said his brothers had planted the bomb in luggage without his knowledge.

Mahmoud and Khaled Khayat face maximum sentences of life in prison. They will be sentenced at a later date.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police at the time described it as sophisticated terror plot

Amer Khayat had been detained in a Lebanese prison since 2017 but was released by authorities on Thursday after his brother's conviction, Lebanese news agency NNA reported.

"It took time for the truth to be revealed, for his innocence to be revealed," his lawyer, Jocelyne Al-Rai, told reporters in Beirut.

During the trial of the two brothers in Australia, prosecutors said the accused men had received guidance from a fourth brother - Tareq Khayat - an IS militant who has since been jailed in Iraq.

Police said the explosives used to make the bomb had been sent by air from Turkey as part of a plot "inspired and directed" by IS.

More on this story