Lebanon’s interior minister applauded country’s police intelligence for uncovering a plot to bring down an Emirati passenger plane that was all set to carry people from Sydney to UAE‘s capital Abu Dhabi.
The minister said that four Lebanese-Australian brothers, including one who is in detention in Lebanon, had planned to blow up the plane with bombs hidden inside a large Barbie doll and a meat grinder.
However, they failed in their attempt as the handbags in which the bombs were placed weighed 7 kilograms above the weight permit by the airline.
Machnouk said the bombs were sent back to the would-be attacker’s home in Australia. He said the attacker tried to bring two explosives on the plane in case one of them did not work. The second would be detonated by one of the brothers who was supposed to be the suicide attacker.
Australian authorities had prevented a terrorist plot to take down an airplane by smuggling a device on board recently. They have provided few details, including the precise nature of the threat or any airlines involved.
Meanwhile, the airline said it is working with Australian police in the ongoing investigation, but the Etihad Airways refused to confirm that it has been targeted.
Police arrested four Lebanese-Australian men and also seized a meat grinder. However, one of the four was released without any charge.
Machnouk said two of the brothers, Khaled and Mahmoud Khayyat, are held in Australia, while another, Tarek, is a senior member of the Islamic State group based in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa. He added that the fourth brother, Amer, was supposed to be on board the plane, working to bring it down 20 minutes after takeoff, but was arrested in Lebanon after he arrived in mid-July from Australia.
“The operation was foiled because of the extra weight,” 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.”
Since Tarek Khayyat became an IS commander, his brother were keenly watched by the Lebanese police intelligence. Machnouk said that about 400 passengers were on the plane, including 120 Lebanese. He said the four brothers wanted to punish the UAE and Australia for being part of the U.S.-led coalition that is targeting the extremists.
“When four Lebanese brothers in Australia decide to blow up an Emirati jet this means that the whole world should work together to fight terrorism,” Machnouk said. “Coordination should be 24 hours a day between all security agencies to stop such attacks.”