Australia Terrorism Suspects Wanted to Use Meat Grinder to Conceal Explosives

Australia airport
Passengers wait to undergo security checks at Sydney Airport in Australia on July 31, following weekend raids related to a plot against Australia's aviation sector. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Four men being held by Sydney police in connection with an Islamist-inspired plot to down a plane planned to use a meat grinder to conceal explosives or possibly poison.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported the group planned to hide a deadly device in a grinder used to mince meat in order to smuggle it onto the plane. It is not clear whether they planned to target a commercial passenger jet or another kind of aircraft.

Read more: Stricter screening at Australian airports will be in place 'indefinitely' after terror raids

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier confirmed that the cell members, all of whom are believed to have been arrested, were capable of making an improvised explosive device. Police recovered multiple items that could have been used to make a bomb.

Turnbull added that the plans were "advanced" and fueled by "an Islamist extremist motivation."

"Police will allege they had the intent and were developing the capability," he said.

The four men are being held under special Australian terrorism powers that allow individuals believed to be involved in terrorism activity to be detained by police for an extended period of time without charge.

"The reality is, with terrorism you can't wait, you can't wait until you put the whole puzzle together," the New South Wales police commissioner said Sunday, according to ABC.

"You do have to go early, because if you get it wrong, the consequences are severe."

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that father and son Khaled Khayat and Mahmoud Khayat were arrested at a private home in Surry Hills, an eastern suburb of Australia’s most populous city, along with Khaled Merhi and Abdul Merhi, who are also believed to be related.

The terrorism plot appears to have been far more complicated than previous lone-wolf terrorism attacks in Australia in recent years. During a siege last month in the city of Melbourne, police shot dead a gunman who was believed to have links to the Islamic State (ISIS) group. Since 2014, 70 people have been charged as a result of 31 counterterrorism operations across the country.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said it was "quite a sophisticated plot."

"It was a plot to bring down an aircraft with the idea of smuggling a device onto it to enable them to do that," he explained.

Following the discovery of the terrorism plot, stricter screening of passengers and luggage at Australian airports will remain in place indefinitely, Australia's immigration minister said Monday.