Fourth man detained over foiled terror plot released, charged with weapons offences

UPDATE: THE last of the four men arrested in connection to the foiled terror plots in Sydney has been released on bail after being charged with weapons offences.

Khaled Merhi, 39, has been in custody since the massive counter-terror raids in Sydney last weekend.

He was on Sunday afternoon charged with one count of possessing a prohibited weapon and released on bail to appear in the Downing Centre Local Court on August 24.


ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT


Under “specified time” provisions outlined in Section 23DD of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth), police had until 8pm tonight to charge him, or let him walk free.

Merhi and three other men were arrested during raids at Lakemba, Surry Hills, Wiley Park and Punchbowl last Saturday after police uncovered a plot to blow up an Etihad flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi on July 15.

Brothers Khaled Mahmoud Khayat, 49, and Mahmoud Khayat, 32, have already been charged over the conspiracy, while Abdul Merhi, 50, was released from police custody without charge on Tuesday.

The two Khayat brothers have each been charged with two counts of acts down in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act, contrary to section 101.6 if the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for the charges is life imprisonment.

Police say all four men are related through marriage.

The older Khayat brother is alleged to have carried an IED to Sydney’s International Airport in the hope of smuggling it on board the Etihad plane in the checked luggage of a third brother who police said was unaware of the “catastrophic” plan.

Fortunately, however, the IED never made it onto the plane, after being turned around at the check-in desk.

Speaking at a press conference last week, AFP deputy commissioner Michael Phelan said the alleged plot was “one of the most sophisticated… that has ever been attempted on Australian soil”.

Details of a second “hypothetical” plot were also uncovered and allegedly involved plans to build a chemical bomb and release highly toxic hydrogen sulfide on a packed train or bus in Sydney.

Police said the alleged masterminds, however, were “a long way from having a functional device.”

The two Khayat brothers will remain behind bars until their court appearance in November.