An Islamist terror plot designed to blow up a plane in the skies over Australia using bombs concealed inside a Barbie doll and a meat grinder was foiled by Lebanon’s security services.
The country’s interior minister made the claim when he revealed a flight from Australia to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was targeted by terrorists who hoped to smuggle a bomb on board before detonating it 20 minutes into its journey.
The bombing was intended to punish Australia for joining the U.S. in its fight against Islamic State in Iran and Iraq. The airline at the center of the plot remains unknown, although Breitbart News has reported Etihad Airways is helping Australian police with their investigations.
Nouhad Machnouk, speaking to a Saudi Arabia-owned TV channel, said four Lebanese-Australian brothers were behind the plan which was foiled last month. He said they had planned to take down the plane with bombs hidden inside a large Barbie doll and a commercial meat grinder.
One brother, Amer Khayyat, has been detained in Lebanon while Khaled and Mahmoud Khayyat were arrested in Australia, the minister added. The fourth, Tarek Khayyat, is claimed to be a senior Islamic State member living in the terror group’s de facto capital Raqqa, northern Syria.
Mr Machnouk said Amer was chosen to be on board the plane, carrying around 400 passengers, in order to bring it down. But he revealed how the concealed explosives did not make it on to the plane because the handbag they were being carried in was 7kg over the weight permitted by the airline.
Amer, who made several trips between Australia and Lebanon under the pretext of coming to get engaged or married, was arrested in Lebanon after he arrived in mid-July from Australia.
“The operation was foiled because of the extra weight,” Mr Machnouk said. “Intelligence branch followed on the case and found that Amer was involved in this act and it appears that he was supposed to carry it out.”
Australian authorities have refused to add to the claims made in Lebanon, saying it was not appropriate to comment further on the details of a current investigation that was also before Australian courts.
“We have a close and cooperative relationship with the Lebanese authorities and are working closely on this investigation,” an Australian Federal Police spokeswoman said in an email obtained by Reuters.
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin previously described the plot as “Islamic-inspired.”
“We do believe it is Islamic-inspired terrorism. Exactly what is behind this is something we need to investigate fully,” he said earlier this month.
Since 2014, 70 people have been charged as a result of 31 counter-terrorism operations around Australia.
Australia’s terror threat level remains at probable.
AP contributed to this report
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