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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Suspected ISIS mastermind of Etihad bomb plot 'sentenced to death in Iraq'

Tarek Khayat and his brothers accused of attempting to bring down Sydney-Abu Dhabi flight in June 2017

Australian police search homes in Sydney on August 1, 2017 after an unsuccessful plot to bomb an Etihad flight. AFP
Australian police search homes in Sydney on August 1, 2017 after an unsuccessful plot to bomb an Etihad flight. AFP

An ISIS militant believed to be behind an unsuccessful attempt to bomb an Etihad flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi last year has been sentenced to death in Iraq, according to a report by Australia's ABC news service.

Tarek Khayat, 48, a Lebanese national, was sentenced this week by the Alrasafah Central Criminal Court in Baghdad over his role as ISIS commander in Iraq, ABC said.

Khayat is believed to have directed two of his brothers — Khaled and Mahmoud — to bring down an Etihad Airways flight on July 15, 2017, using an explosive device hidden in a meat grinder.

Their plan was foiled when a fourth brother, Amer, was prevented from carrying the device on board as cabin baggage because his bag was too heavy. He boarded the flight without the bag and is now in custody in Lebanon. He denies any knowledge of the plot.

Khaled and Mahmoud were arrested by the Australian police in a series of raids across Sydney in July 2017 and are expected to go on trial at the New South Wales supreme court next year, according to ABC.

Khayat, who was wanted by Lebanese authorities for attempting to establish an ISIS affiliate in the country’s north in 2014 before he moved to Syria to join the extremist group, has 10 days to appeal his sentence and could be executed within 30 days after that if the appeal is rejected.

He was arrested in Iraq earlier this year alongside a relative with Australian citizenship named Ahmed Mehri, senior Australian officials told ABC.

Authorities believe both Khayat and Mehri had been in touch with ISIS supporters in Australia and had played a role in several domestic plots.

There was no word on Mehri's fate.

Iraq has arrested tens of thousands of suspected ISIS members and sympathisers on terrorism charges and is reported to have sentenced more than 3,000 to death since the government declared victory over the group in December last year after a three-year campaign backed by a US-led global coalition.

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