A 39-year-old man detained over an alleged terror plot last week has been charged with possessing a prohibited weapon and released, police said on Sunday.
Khaled Merhi was one of four men arrested by New South Wales joint counter-terrorism police on 29 July and he has been bailed to appear at Downing centre local Court on 24 August.
Terror raids across Sydney a week ago uncovered two alleged plots to blow up Etihad Airlines flights from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, using an explosive or gas put into checked baggage.
The first plot was abandoned at the very final stage on 15 July, after an improvised explosive device was taken as far as the international terminal of Sydney airport, according to the AFP.
Police will allege in court Khaled Khayat, 49, of Lakemba and his brother Mahmoud Khayat 32, of Punchbowl, conspired to put an explosive on board the flight, in the baggage of a third Khayat brother who did not know about the plot.
However, the explosive device, concealed inside a meat mincer, was not checked in after the passenger was queried about its weight. It’s understood the bag carrying the bomb may have been too heavy.
Police believe Khaled Khayat, who had been directing the alleged plot, took the luggage with him when he left Sydney Airport while his brother, who has not been identified, boarded the Etihad flight. He has not returned to Australia.
Police believe the third Khayat brother had no prior knowledge of the terrorism plot. He does not face any charges.
The second plot was being planned when police swooped on homes across Sydney last Saturday.
In court, police will alleged the plots were arranged by an Isis operative working in Syria who sent bomb parts to Australia by air cargo. The police raids took place after foreign intelligence agencies intercepted communications from the Syrian jihadist.
Four men were arrested in the raids and homes in Surry Hills, Lakemba, Punchbowl, Wiley Park and Bankstown were searched.
Police applied for a special detention order to hold and question the men for seven days. The order was due to expire at 7pm Sunday. From Thursday, only Khaled Merhi of Surry Hills remained in detention without charge.
Khaled Khayat, 49, of Lakemba, and his brother Mahmoud Khayat, 32, of Punchbowl, were charged on Thursday with two counts each of acting in preparation for or planning a terrorist act. Each offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The pair did not apply for bail when their case came for mention at Parramatta Local Court on Friday, and it was formally refused. Their case will return to court in November.
The lawyer for Merhi, Moustafa Kheir, said his client was "relieved the truth is out” after a "tough few days”. "It’s just unfathomable that he would be associated with anything like this.”
Kheir said he would review "what basis police had to do what they did” and said Abdul Merhi’s life had been "turned upside down” by his arrest.
The Merhi and Khayat brothers are brothers-in-law.