Australian IS fighter and IS commander arrested in Iraq for alleged connections to July 2017 Sydney Airport bomb plot

April 20, 2018 | Brainwave Science


The capture of an Islamic State (IS) group commander and an Australian relative in Iraq was officially confirmed today by Australia’s government. The 2 relatives are from Khayat and Merhi families, namely Tarek Khayat and Ahmed Merhi.

  1. Khayat is allegedly the mastermind of the airplane bomb plot back in July 2017 in Sidney’s airport. The flight was from Sydney to Abu Dhabi and had 400 passengers aboard. Although T. Khayat and A. Merhi have been detained earlier this year, it has been shrouded in secrecy because of diplomatic sensitivities surrounding the cases, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported, citing anonymous Australian officials. Australian police allege A. Merhi was in close contact with a homegrown IS cell behind several Sydney plots, including the 2015 fatal shooting of a police accountant outside the state police headquarters.
  2. Khayat is a suspect of having driven his Sydney-based brothers Khaled Khayat and Mahmoud Khayat to smuggle a bomb hidden inside a meat grinder and a Barbie doll into an Etihad Airways plane, flight EY451 on the 15th of July 2017. The person carrying the luggage was another brother, Amer Khayat, who was flying to Abu Dhabi.

On the 29th of July K. Khayat and M. Khayat were arrested and have been charged with two counts of planning a terrorist act. The pair were seized during police raids at four properties just days after Australian authorities were warned about the plan by Israel’s military intelligence. Members of A. Merhi’s family were also arrested during the raids but were later released without charge. Although the terror plot is envolving the Khayat brothers and A. Merhi, a fifth unnamed relative with connections at Sydney airport was allegedly recruited to grant the bombs to pass through security points.

In 2016, T. Khayat was working for IS in Syria where his two teenage sons, Mohammed and Abdul Rahman Khayat, were killed. The Australian bomb plot was allegedly a payback to the West for his sons’ deaths. The bomb never made it on to the plane because it exceeded weight limits at the check-in counter. The Etihad Airways officer decided to weigh A. Khayat’s carry-on bag and the plot was aborted as the bombs were removed from the hand luggage.

The self-timed bomb hidden inside the Barbie doll was allegedly set to detonate a second bomb inside a meat grinder in the hand luggage carried on board, Police alleged.

A month after the arrests, Lebanon officials said T. Khayat had moved to the Isis stronghold of Raqqa in Syria and became a commander in the jihadist group more than 12 months earlier.


The way IS communicates their ideologies and approach new sympathizers through social networks are boosting the number of people involved with this terrorist group. Dr. Seth Jones, a former senior Pentagon adviser who briefs international counter-terrorism agencies on the threat posed by IS, said the flow of foreign fighters to the Middle East remains significant. “There are a number of Australians as well as other Westerners still in Iraq and Syria,” he said.

We are facing an era where terror attacks happen frequently and are easily accomplished by criminals, therefore intelligence gathering is becoming more and more relevant to authorities. With this arrest, the opportunity of understanding how the plot was planned and who was related to it has come. “The most important step for Australia right now is to get access, if they can, to interview both Tarek Khayat and Ahmed Merhi, to better understand their motivations, to better understand who they’ve been in contact with and also to better understand if they have information about other Australians operating in Iraq and Syria.” Dr. Seth Jones stated.

Australian counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen agreed the arrests could be crucial in understanding how the plot came about. “It came pretty close to successfully bringing down an aircraft with, perhaps, 400 people on it over Australia, if that had happened, it would have been one of the most serious attacks since September 11.” he said.

How can authorities take this chance and gather as much information possible regarding not only this terror plot but also connections to active IS Australian terrorist cell?


To unveil the bomb plot of Etihad Airways flight EY451 and associated people with the IS Australian cell, iCognative system can be the ultimate tool. Anyone can be submitted to the test by children to pregnant people since it respects the human rights being harmless but effective. All witnesses, victims, persons of interest can be tested with 100% safety.  From the people who taught the brothers how to build the bombs to the one who was supposed to facilitate the passage of the hand luggage through the security check, all of them can be chased by authorities now. In spite of suspects usually choose not to cooperate on sharing details and relevant associated people, iCognative system detects crime relevant concealed information from all suspicious people and identifying criminals. The technology identifies any specific concealed or hidden information in the brain. It relies on brain information processing that detects a distinct change in electrical activity when a human brain responds to the sight of familiar stimuli. It matches information from the crime scene with information stored in the subject’s brain.

To conduct the test, confidential information from the situation, for example but may not be confidential in this case are such as: date of the bombing 15th of July; flight number and airlines – Etihad Airways, flight EY451; location where bombs were hidden – barbie doll and meat grinder; flight destination – Abu Dhabi known only to perpetrator is inputted into the system and flashed on a computer screen to the person being tested, while collecting brain responses and analyzed to identify which suspect has this confidential information in the brain.  Additionally, several Sydney plots, including the murder of police accountant Curtis Cheng in 2015 which is allegedly connected to this homegrown IS cell can also be investigated. This information can be used as stimuli either in the form of pictures or text depending on what form it is available.

After the end of the test results are analyzed automatically and produce a report demonstrating whether the information is present or absent in the tested subject.

Unlike polygraph where emotions can deceive the equipment, brain reactions cannot be avoided granting an outbreak intelligence gathering tool for any investigator to use since the portability and user-friendly dashboard makes possible to learn how to use iCognative system in just in a couple of days with an investigative background.

With the usage of iCognative system, in this case, authorities can gather accurate intelligence to identify actual perpetrators, complementing the tools and investigative techniques used at the moment and being able to possibly dismantle the IS cell in Australia.


The Guardian

ABC Australia

News Australia

Daily Mail UK

NY Times