Australian court finds second man guilty of plotting to blow up Etihad flight

Above, an Etihad Airways aircraft crosses at low altitude above buildings in the Lebanese capital Beirut’s coastal neighborhood of Hamra on July 10, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2019

Australian court finds second man guilty of plotting to blow up Etihad flight

  • Bomb hidden in a meat grinder, a court spokeswoman said on Friday

SYDNEY: An Australian court has found a man guilty of planning to blow up an Etihad Airways flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi nearly two years ago with a bomb hidden in a meat grinder, a spokeswoman for the New South Wales Supreme Court said on Friday.
Police had accused the man, Mahmoud Khayat, and his brother Khaled Khayat of planning two terrorist attacks: the bomb and a chemical gas attack on the flight to Abu Dhabi in July 2017.
Khaled was found guilty by the New South Wales Supreme Court in May, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict against Mahmoud. His retrial ended with a guilty verdict on Thursday afternoon for planning “the terrorist act,” the spokeswoman said.
Khaled and Mahmoud Khayat were arrested after police raids in Sydney. Police had said that high-grade explosives used to make the bomb were flown from Turkey as part of a plot “inspired and directed” by the Islamic State.
The court will hear sentencing submissions later, the Australian Associated Press reported.
The verdict in Mahmoud’s case came only a few hours before Lebanon’s military court acquitted another brother, Amer Khayat, of the plotting to blow up the Etihad flight.
The military court sentenced the three other Khayat brothers — Khaled, Mahmoud and Tareq — in absentia to hard labor for life, Lebanese state news agency NNA said late on Wednesday.
Lebanon’s police said in 2017 that Tareq was a Daesh commander in Syria.
Khaled, Mahmoud and Amer were all living in Australia but occasionally visited Lebanon. Amer landed in Beirut in July 2017 on the day of the plot to smuggle the bomb onto the plane, Lebanon’s interior minister said at the time.


UN adopts new voting procedure during COVID-19 pandemic

Updated 22 min 16 sec ago

UN adopts new voting procedure during COVID-19 pandemic

  • Ambassadors from the 193 U.N. member nations will cast secret ballots at a designated venue during spaced-out time slots
  • The Security Council has five permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — and 10 elected members

UNITED NATIONS: The U.N. General Assembly adopted a new voting procedure Friday for the upcoming election of new members of the Security Council aimed at preventing a large gathering and ensuring social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of meeting in the horseshoe-shaped assembly chamber at U.N. headquarters overlooking New York’s East River, ambassadors from the 193 U.N. member nations will cast secret ballots at a designated venue during spaced-out time slots.
And they will be voting not only for five non-permanent members of the Security Council to serve two-year terms but for 18 new members of the 54-nation Economic and Social Council to serve three-year terms.
According to the new procedure, the president of the General Assembly will send a letter to all member states at least 10 working days before the first round of secret balloting for the two elections to inform them of the date, venue where ballots should be cast, and other relevant information.
The Security Council election had been scheduled for June 17, but it’s unclear whether that will remain the date.
The Security Council has five permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — and 10 members elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. Five countries are elected every year.
The council is the U.N.’s most powerful body and winning a seat is a pinnacle of achievement for many countries because it gives them a strong voice on issues of international peace and security ranging from conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Ukraine to the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and Iran, and attacks by extremist groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaida.
This year seven countries are vying for five seats, and there are two hotly contested races.
In the group of Western nation, Canada, Ireland and Norway are battling for two seats, and in Africa, Kenya and Djibouti are competing for one seat. India is running unopposed for the Asia-Pacific seat and Mexico is running unopposed for the seat for Latin America and the Caribbean.