(February 21, 2018 / JNS) An IDF elite intelligence unit revealed on Wednesday that it helped Australia thwart a plot by the Islamic State to bomb a commercial airliner.
“Unit 8200 provided exclusive intelligence that led to the thwarting of an airliner bombing by Islamic State [ISIS] at the end of 2017,” an IDF statement said.
“The cooperation with the Israeli intelligence community allowed for the transfer of information to the local security authorities and led to the arrest of the suspects, who were in the advanced stages of preparations and close to executing the attack. The foiling of the attack led to saving dozens of innocent lives and demonstrates that Unit 8200 is a player in the intelligence battle against Islamic State.”
According to reports, in July 2017 an Australian man sent his unsuspecting brother to Australia’s Sydney airport for an Etihad Airways flight with a homemade bomb disguised as a meat mincer at the direction of an Islamic State commander. But the bag with the bomb, which had been shipped by a senior Islamic State commander from Turkey to Australia, never made it to airport security, with the one brother continuing on the flight and the other leaving the airport with the bag.
“This is one of the most sophisticated plots that has ever been attempted on Australian soil,” Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said at the time. “If it hadn’t been for the great work of our intelligence agencies and law enforcement over a very quick period of time, then we could well have a catastrophic event in this country.”
Australian authorities also said that the suspects, later identified Khaled Khayat and Mahmoud Khayat, planned to release highly toxic hydrogen sulfide gas to poison people.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the IDF unit during a speech to American Jewish leaders, saying that “this is just one of the dozens of terrorist attacks that we have stopped around the world.”
The intelligence services, he said, “deserve all the support we can give—not only for protecting the citizens of Israel, but for protecting people all over the world.”