A Lebanese family in Tripoli are shocked by the allegations that their three brothers plotted to blow up an Etihad flight from Sydney.
“I feel like I’ve aged with this,” said Waled Khayat. “I’ve started taking anxiety pills,” he told the ABC.
This is the first time the family has spoken publicly about the allegations and they still don’t understand how the charges against two of their brothers, Khaled and Mahmoud, could be true.
Waled said that Khaled left Lebanon in the 80s to make a peaceful living and if he wanted to fight in a war, he wouldn’t go to Australia to do it.
“Khaled has been to Mecca, so he knows right from wrong,” Waled said. “He was there to make a living. He wants to down a plane? It’s not logical. If he were a terrorist, he wouldn’t have left Lebanon in 1986.”
“I don’t understand what happened with them. What is this story?” Waled said.
In 2017, the Australian police arrested Waled’s brothers Khaled, 49, and Mahmoud, 32. They were accused of trying to get an improvised explosive device (IED) on a plane and a fatal “rotten egg bomb” on a Sydney bus, the ABC reported.
The police alleged that Khaled and Mahmoud planted the IED on another brother’s luggage without his knowledge.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said the other brother, Amer, didn’t know anything about the explosives, they alleged that the brothers removed the explosives at the check-ins because they went over the weight limit. Amer was allowed to travel through to Lebanon.
Amer Khayat, the Third Brother
In Lebanon, Amer stayed with Waled and his family. But a week after his brothers’ arrests were broadcasted, the Lebanese authorities arrested him, the ABC reported.
A year later, the 39-year-old is still in custody and a military tribual is still investigating the incident.
Another of his brothers in Lebanon, Fadi Khayat, said that the evidence the military tribunal has against Amer isn’t very strong.
On Sept. 4, the authorities found nine screenshots of news reports on terrorism and a photo of a letter supposedly written by Amer to his mother saying “I agree I was mean to you and did very wrong.”
Amer has maintained that he didn’t take the screenshots. Fadi told the ABC that the letter to their mother made no sense because she died in 2010.
Waled is worried that the reputation of their other brother, Tarek, might affect Amer, Khaled, and Mahmoud.
He said that Tarek knew a lot about ISIS and was accused of being an ISIS commander after being picked up by Iraqi authorities.
“I don’t care. He [Tarek] chose his own path,” said Waled. “But Khaled and Mahmoud haven’t chosen what is happening to them.”
The family’s troubles don’t end there. Waled visited Amer in a Beirut prison on Sept. 3, telling him that their sister had just died of cancer a day before his hearing.
“… he burst out crying because he lost his sister and he was in jail,” said Waled. “And he says she got the cancer because of what’s happening to her brothers.”
Waled said that Tarek is facing execution and that Amer will face execution as well if he is charged and convicted.
The trial in Australia for Khaled and Mahmoud is scheduled for March 2019 in the NSW Supreme Court.