Accused Barbie doll bomber to face Beirut court
EXCLUSIVE: THIS is the face of alleged Barbie doll bomber Amer Khayat, who was listed to appear in a military court in Lebanon overnight where his lawyer was to open his defence case.
Khayat, 40, is on trial in Beirut, accused of being part of a plot to plant two bombs on an Etihad flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi on July 15 last year. The bombs were allegedly primed to go off 20 minutes after takeoff, putting the plane, with almost 400 people on board, somewhere west of the Blue Mountains.
Lebanese security forces have alleged that Khayat, who was arrested in Tripoli, Lebanon, in August last year, made a confession to them about his involvement, which included taking two bombs, packed in a Barbie doll and a meat-mincer, to the check-in counter at Sydney Airport, only to be turned away because his luggage was too heavy.
Khayat, a dual Australian-Lebanese national, has since retracted the alleged confession and now says he is innocent, and knew nothing of a specific threat to bring down the plane.
An investigating judge in Lebanon has recommended the death penalty for Khayat and others allegedly involved in the plot, but this is only the first stage of the judicial process, which now continues before a 13-member military panel.
Two of his brothers, Khaled Khayat, 49, and Mahmoud Khayat, 32, are in custody in Sydney. They have pleaded not guilty to two counts of plotting a terrorist act, relating to the same alleged incident, and a second alleged plot to build a chemical weapon, and will face trial next year.
A fourth brother, Tarek Khayat, is believed to be in custody in Iraq, although family members have told News Corp they believe he is dead.
Tarek Khayat was a senior figure with Islamic State in Syria.
In an interview with News Corp at Roumieh prison in Beirut in May, Amer Khayat again reiterated his innocence, and said "I am not a terrorist.''
"Australia is my country,'' he said.
"Tell the people of Australia I am innocent.''
He has previously told the military tribunal he was innocent, weeping as he told the courtroom he was not an Islamic extremist, and did not attempt to blow up the plane.