SYDNEY, Australia – An ISIS commander who arranged for his brothers to blow up a jetliner over the New South Wales Central West, not far from Sydney, has been sentenced to hang.
Tarek Khayat appeared in the Alrasafah Central Criminal Court in Baghdad during the week after being arrested and taken into custody in Raqqa, the former headquarters for ISIL in Syria, earlier this year.
Khayat, 48, a native of Lebanon was tried and convicted of terrorism in relation to his activities with Islamic State. He has yet to be charged with his involvement in the plot to put two bombs on board an Etihad flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi. He will now likely avoid being charged, as his execution is expected to take place within the next few weeks.
Khayat’s three brothers however, also Lebanese nationals, are in custody in Australia and will face the New South Wales Supreme Courtin Sydney next year.
If the bombing of the Etihad flight from Sydney in July 2017 had gone ahead, the plane would have exploded over the state’s Central West.
The plot uncovered by police, which resulted in five arrest raids across Sydney at the end of July last year, involved detonating two bombs on the Sydney to Abu Dhabi flight on July 15 last year.
It was revealed in August 2017 that Australian police were tipped off by intelligence officials in Lebanon about the plan.
It is alleged the men intended to smuggle the bombs on to the A380 plane, one in a meat mincer and the other in a Barbie doll.
The four brothers are believed to have been involved in the plot.
A fifth brother, Amer Khayat was to travel on the flight, unwittingly with the bombs in his luggage, however Australian Federal Police have concluded he was not aware of the plot. He is still in custody in Lebanon, where he was arrested soon after he arrived from Sydney. Australian police have conffrmed he has been cleared of any wrongdoing and should soon be released.
His brothers had planned to detonate the bombs about 20 minutes into the flight.
At that time, around 9:40pm on the 15th of July, the plane, which was carrying 400 passengers and crew, would have been approaching a cruising altitude of 33,000 feet and would have been flying over Dubbo or Gilgandra.
All 400 on board would have been killed and potentially more on the ground. The plan unravelled when the bomber’s luggage was found to be 7 kilograms overweight and could not be checked in. Amer Khayat, unaware of what was planned, removed the bag that contained the bombs.