Israel thwarted ‘Islamic State’ plot to blow up plane from Australia: Netanyahu

By Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

Information from Israeli intelligence helped to prevent the downing of a passenger jet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said. Local media linked his comments to the attempted bombing of an Etihad Airways flight.

In a speech to US Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday his country’s elite military intelligence unit had prevented the bombing of an “Australian airliner.”

“The Israeli intelligence services thwarted the downing of an Australian plane, an unimaginable slaughter,” the Israeli leader told delegates.

“This would have caused a major disruption in global air transport, and this is only one of dozens of terrorist attacks we have foiled around the world,” Netanyahu said, without giving any other details.

His comments followed a statement from the Israeli army that a branch of military intelligence known as Unit 8200 had foiled an “air attack abroad” by the “Islamic State” (IS) militant group.

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Israeli media said the army statement referred to an attempted bombing in July of an Etihad Airways flight, due to leave Sydney for Abu Dhabi.

Information provided by 8200 — an elite Israeli unit that gathers and analyses intelligence using sophisticated information technology — led to the arrest of two IS militants who were working “toward the execution of the attack,” the army said.

Bomb in luggage

Two Lebanese-Australian brothers, Khaled Khayat and Mahmoud Khayat, were charged with plotting to bring down the passenger jet by trying to smuggle an improvised explosive device in luggage onto a July 15 flight, but the attempt was aborted before they reached security.

Reports at the time of their arrest suggested that one of the men had asked his brother to carry the luggage on board without telling him that the bag contained explosives.

The homemade bomb, disguised as a meat-mincer, was built at the direction of a senior IS commander based overseas, Australian police said.

The Israeli tip came on July 26, nine days after the attempt to board the plane. The pair were arrested three days later, along with two others — who were later released without charge, The Times of Israel reported.

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Days after the plot was revealed, Lebanon’s interior minister said Beirut had monitored the brothers for more than a year and had worked with Australian authorities to disrupt the attack.

Etihad earlier this week confirmed it was working Australian authorities on their investigation.

Source: – dw