Lebanese suspect linked to Etihad terror plot to be released from prison
Amer Khayat was unaware of the terror plan and will be released soon as his three brothers are sentenced in absentia to hard labor for life.
September 19th, 12:51 pmSeptember 19th, 12:52 pmStep Feed
Two years ago, two brothers were charged with plotting to blow up an Etihad flight carrying 400 passengers with military-grade explosives concealed in a meat grinder and a Barbie doll.
Now, Lebanon's military court has acquitted one of four brothers – Amer Khayat – after spending two years and two months in the country's Roumieh prison. He was arrested upon arrival to Lebanon in mid-July 2017. Khayat had pleaded not guilty to the charges, saying he was an unwitting participant in the terror plot, according to Australia's ABC News.
His lawyer, Jocelyne al-Rai, said the necessary procedures for his release were being completed, according to Reuters.
"It took time for his innocence to be revealed," she added.
The military court also sentenced the three other suspects, the siblings of Amer, in absentia. Khaled, Mahmoud, and Tarek were sentenced to "hard labor for life," media reports said on Thursday.
At the time of the incident in 2017, Australian police charged Khaled and Mahmoud with two counts of "planning a terrorist attack after conducting raids to disrupt what authorities described as an Islamic State-inspired plot to bomb an Etihad Airways flight," according to Reuters.
This May, the Australian court found Khaled guilty of "plotting to blow up the flight by hiding a bomb disguised as a meat mincer in the luggage of his brother Amer, who was unaware."
During Khaled's trial, the court heard that he "was motivated to support militant groups fighting the Syrian regime and to promote Islamic State." His lawyer, Richard Pontella, argued that the man had been trying to prevent a terrorist attack but the jury completely rejected these claims.
Earlier reports on the foiled plot revealed that Lebanon played a major role in preventing the attack. This came after Lebanese intelligence forces began monitoring three Khayat brothers when they learned that their fourth sibling, Tarek, was a senior Daesh member based in Raqaa, Syria.
The flight en-route to Abu Dhabi from Sydney was carrying about 400 people, including 120 Lebanese.