Lebanese-Australian operation foils terror attack on Abu Dhabi bound plane

400 passengers were aboard the flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, including 120 Lebanese citizens.

:: Lebanese Interior Minister Nuhad al-Mashnouk revealed the involvement of four Lebanese men in an attempt to blow up a UAE-bound passenger plane from Australia to Abu Dhabi last month.

Mashnouk said in a press conference, Monday, that the thwarted suicide attack was coordinated by the Information Division of the Lebanese Homeland Security Authority and their counterparts in Australia.

He confirmed that 400 passengers were aboard the plane, which was heading from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, including 120 Lebanese citizens.

The minister said that four Lebanese brothers were involved in the preparation of the operation. The explosives were discovered after the inspection of a hand bag that was larger than normal.

A meat mincer was found in the bag containing explosives.

The Lebanese minister said that a year ago, the Information Division began tracing one of the four brothers who went to Syria, specifically to Raqqa, the capital of the so called ISIS caliphate.

The suspect, Tariq al-Khayyat, has been identified by Mashnouk as an ISIS leader.

The information division monitored Khayat’s contacts with his three brothers and their travels from Australia to Lebanon and vice versa.

The second brother identified as Amer al-Khayat arrived in Lebanon during the Eid al-Fitr holiday in late June while the remaining two brothers, identified as Khaled and Mahmoud al-Khayat, remained in Australia.

Through coordination with the Australian authorities the three brother were under constant surveillance, Mashnouk said.

The Australian federal Police said on July 31 that two Lebanese-Australian fathers and their sons have been arrested.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said that the AFP have disrupted a legitimate and credible attempt to attack an aircraft.

Colvin added that their arrests followed a tip from a ‘foreign intelligence agency’.

Australian newspapers cited multiple anonymous sources saying that the plotters were constructing a “non-traditional” explosive device that could have emitted a toxic, sulfur-based gas to kill or immobilize everyone on the aircraft.

Al-Mashnuq said on Monday that Amer al-Khayyat, who was in Lebanon, was the proposed suicide bomber.

The Lebanese minister said that the plan was to fly Amer with the explosives on board, with the help of an Australian accomplice at Sydney airport, for the attack to take place 20 minutes after takeoff.

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