Islamic State linked to Sydney terror plot: police
A Sydney-based terror plot to bring down a plane involved a fully functioning IED which had been assembled from components under the instruction of an Islamic State commander, the Australian Federal Police will allege.
The components were allegedly sent via post from Turkey in one package, deputy commissioner Michael Phelan said at a press conference today.
The men are accused of planning a terrorist act between July 16 and July 29 this year, according to a police charge sheet.
Police also allege in court documents that Khaled Khayat, 49, of Lakemba, and Mahmoud Khayat, 32, of Punchbowl, prepared or planned a terrorist act at Lakemba, in Sydney's southwest.
Mr Phelan said police will allege it was one of the most "sophisticated plots" attempted on Australian soil, claiming links to a "senior member of ISIL in Syria".
"This is one of the most sophisticated plots that has ever been attempted on Australian soil," Mr Phelan said.
"We could very well have had a catastrophic event.
"We will be alleging the communication commenced around about April that one of the two people who has been charged was put in contact with this ISIL controller around about April this year.
"We are not going to assume anything I am not going to be talking any names today but one of the two gentleman that has been charged, their brother we are alleging is a senior member of ISIL in Syria and that he introduced another person we are calling the controller to one of the people that has been charged."
The AFP will allege the components were assembled here under instruction from that commander and the IED was functional when it was allegedly planted on an unaware relative who was due to take an Etihad flight on July 15, but the attempt was abandoned after the luggage proved too heavy to take aboard the flight.
The man who was to take the IED aboard the flight was unaware of what he was carrying and continued to board his flight.
He has not yet returned to Australia but is not believed to be a part of the alleged plot.
The men appeared in court today charged with two counts of preparing or planning for a terrorist act.
They did not apply for bail and it was formally refused.
They will reappear before the same court on November 14.
Mr Phelan confirmed that two search warrants were still ongoing.
One charge outlines how the pair allegedly planned and act between July 16 and 29 and another charged alleges they planned a terrorist act between April 13 and July 16.
They have been charged over an alleged plot to bomb an Etihad Airways flight out of Sydney.
Both men will face the charges, which carry a maximum penalty of life in jail.
A second plot allegedly involved an attempt to manufacture hydrogen sulphide and release it in a public place, Mr Phelan said.
"This hydrogen sulphide is very difficult to make so I want to make it quite clear that whilst it may have been a hypothetical plot for these people to put forward we were a long way from having a functional device, there were certainly precursor chemicals and some of the components had been produced but we were a long way from having a chemical dispersion device," he said.
Components of that device were allegedly found spread across the properties searched over the past week.
He also noted that the explosive was "a high end military grade explosive".
"We are alleging that explosive device and components of it including the propellant did come form overseas," he said.
However, while he would not say who the IS commander giving instructions was, he said the commander was not Australian and not related to any of the charged men.
The charged Khayat brothers are two of the four men arrested in raids across Sydney last Saturday.
Their brother-in-law Khaled Merhi remains in detention being questioned by police under specific provisions of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, which police said "recognises that terrorism investigations are inherently complex and that there can be legitimate reasons for extended periods of detention for suspects in such matters".
Mr Merhi, who lives with his parents at Surry Hills, has not been charged.
The fourth man, Khaled Merhi's brother Abdul Merhi, 50, was released without charge on Tuesday.
Police confirmed they have been searching six homes across Sydney following the raids on homes in Lakemba, Surry Hills, Wiley Park, Bankstown and two homes in Punchbowl.