ISIS commander directed Australian terror plot

This article is more than 12 months old

SYDNEY: An Australian man sent his unsuspecting brother to Sydney airport to catch an Etihad Airways flight carrying a homemade bomb disguised as a meat mincer built at the direction of a senior Islamic State commander, police said yesterday.

Detailing one of Australia's worst known terrorist plots, police said two men who have been charged with terror-related offences also planned to build a device to release poisonous gas in a public area.

High-grade military explosives used to build the bomb were sent by air cargo from Turkey as part of a sophisticated plot "inspired and directed" by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner (National Security) Michael Phelan said.

He said the plot targeted an Etihad Airways flight on July 15 but the bomb never made it past airport security.

"This is one of the most sophisticated plots that has ever been attempted on Australian soil," Mr Phelan said.

Police allege that one of the two men charged late on Thursday had been introduced to ISIS by his brother, who they said was a senior member of the group in Syria. Communication between the accused man and ISIS began around April.

Under the instruction of the unidentified ISIS commander, the men built a "fully functioning IED" (improvised explosive device).

A brother of one of the arrested men was unaware that he was carrying a bomb, disguised as a commercial meat mincer, in his luggage, and tried to check it in at the airport, police said.

"We'll be alleging that the person who was to carry the IED on the plane had no idea they were going to be carrying an IED," Mr Phelan said.

There was "a little bit of conjecture" about what happened next, he said, but it appeared one of the accused then left the airport, taking the luggage with him. The man's brother boarded the plane and has not since returned to Australia.

"I want to make it quite clear - it never got near screening. I don't want anyone to suggest that it... penetrated airport security layers... because it did not," Mr Phelan said. - REUTERS