Sydney man released after airline terror plot arrest

A man arrested over a plot to bomb a commercial flight is relieved to back back home after he was released without charge.

Abdul Merhi was one-of-four men taken into custody on Saturday after intelligence authorities became aware of the plan.

Their alleged target was an Etihad Airlines plane carrying 500 passengers and crew flying from Sydney to Abu Dhabi.

Abdul Merhi, 50, (pictured) arrested over a plot to bomb a commercial flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi is relieved to back back home after he was released without charge

Abdul Merhi, 50, (pictured) arrested over a plot to bomb a commercial flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi is relieved to back back home after he was released without charge

He was one-of-four men taken into custody on Saturday after intelligence authorities became aware of the plan

He was one-of-four men taken into custody on Saturday after intelligence authorities became aware of the plan

The 50-year-old was released about 7pm on Tuesday and his solicitor, Moustafa Kheir, said he endured days of intense interrogation and questioned police actions.

'Tough few days, but he's relieved the truth is out. I will review police action,' he tweeted.

'It's a very serious allegation to have against you,' he said earlier on Wednesday.

'There's a lot of stress associated there, and not knowing, and he was shocked that he was being questioned.

'It's just unfathomable that he would be associated with anything like this.' 

 The 50-year-old was released about 7pm on Tuesday and his solicitor said he endured days of intense interrogation and questioned police actions

 The 50-year-old was released about 7pm on Tuesday and his solicitor said he endured days of intense interrogation and questioned police actions

 Mr Merhi's family was also in shock and his life had been 'turned upside down', his lawyer said

 Mr Merhi's family was also in shock and his life had been 'turned upside down', his lawyer said

Khaled Khayat, pictured in a Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs jersey, is another of the Lebanese-Australian men arrested over the alleged plot

Khaled Khayat, pictured in a Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs jersey, is another of the Lebanese-Australian men arrested over the alleged plot

Mr Merhi's family was also in shock and his life had been 'turned upside down', Mr Kheir added.

'He just wants to go back to as normal life as possible now. A lot of information was divulged, including his identity,' he said.

'That's caused a lot of damage to him. We want to review all the information police had and what basis they had to do what they did.' 

The other three men, including former butcher Khaled Khayat, his relative Mahmoud Khayat, and former van driver Khaled Merhi, remained in custody under special powers which allow police to hold them for up to a week.

They must be released by Sunday unless police can bring charges against them or successfully apply for further detention. 

Federal police spent days rifling through several homes across Sydney following the weekend raids in Surry Hills, Wiley Park, Lakemba, and Punchbowl.

One theory suggested the would-be terrorists planned to use a meat grinder to get their home-made device through airport security 

One theory suggested the would-be terrorists planned to use a meat grinder to get their home-made device through airport security 

Federal police spent days rifling through several homes across Sydney following the weekend raids in Surry Hills, Wiley Park, Lakemba, and Punchbowl 

Federal police spent days rifling through several homes across Sydney following the weekend raids in Surry Hills, Wiley Park, Lakemba, and Punchbowl 

Two of the accused are reportedly related to infamous jihadist Ahmed Merhi (pictured), who travelled to Syria in 2014

Two of the accused are reportedly related to infamous jihadist Ahmed Merhi (pictured), who travelled to Syria in 2014

Mr Merhi was arrested at his parent's home in Surry Hills and was seen wearing a bandage.

'This investigation remains ongoing, and further information will be provided at an appropriate time,' a joint statement from the AFP and NSW Police said on Wednesday.

The alarming plot allegedly involved an improvised device and the target was a plane, with one theory suggesting the would-be terrorists planned to use a meat grinder to get their home-made device through airport security.

Deakin University terror expert Greg Barton suggested the plan may have centred around acetone peroxide - or TATP.

It was the same chemical used in the Manchester Arena bombing in May and the 2015 Paris attacks, and though unstable can be powerful when placed in a pressure vessel.

The target of the alleged terror plot was an Etihad flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi with up to 500 passengers and crew on board (stock image)

The target of the alleged terror plot was an Etihad flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi with up to 500 passengers and crew on board (stock image)

Referred to as the 'mother of Satan' because it can kill those handling it, TATP would not give off 'tell-tale' chemicals picked up by airport swab tests

'That makes it a candidate for using in this sort of attack,' Professor Barton said.

'My speculative guess is they were probably trained in how to prepare TATP.' 

However, though he said the conspiracy was 'clearly the most sophisticated terror plot' Australia had ever seen, it likely would have failed because the bomb may have been stopped at security, failed to detonate or failed to bring an aircraft down. 

Etihad Airways confirmed it was helping Australian

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