Police will decide on Sunday if they should charge, release or continue questioning the final man being held after a series of terrorism raids were carried out across Sydney a week ago.
The raids allegedly uncovered two plots to target passenger planes flying from Sydney to the Middle East by placing an explosive or gas in checked baggage.
One plot was abandoned at the last minute on July 15, after an improvised explosive device was taken as far as the international terminal at Sydney Airport, the n Federal Police said on Friday.
It is alleged another plot was being planned when the raids were carried out. The plots were arranged by an Islamic State operative in Syria who sent bomb components to in air cargo, police said. International intelligence agencies intercepted communications from the operative.
Four men were arrested in sweeping raids across Sydney on Saturday, and homes in Surry Hills, Lakemba, Punchbowl, Wiley Park and Bankstown were searched through the week.
Police applied for a special order to question the men for seven days. The order is due to expire on Sunday evening, and only Khaled Merhi remains in detention.
Khaled Mahmoud Khayat???, 49, and his brother Mahmoud Khayat???, 32, were charged on Thursday with two counts each of acting in preparation for or planning a terrorist act, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Their case was briefly mentioned at Parramatta Local Court on Friday, where lawyers for the pair did not apply for bail. The case will return to court in November.
Abdul Merhi??? was released on Thursday night without charge, and his lawyer 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,” Mr Kheir said.
If police do not charge or release Khaled Merhi, they have the option to apply for a preventative detention order, a piece of terrorism legislation under which he could be held for a total of 14 days. The legislation can only be used if police believe a terrorist attack is imminent that could be prevented, or if they believe vital evidence will be lost after a terrorist act.
On Saturday, police were tight-lipped about which course of action they would take.
AFP Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan on Friday described the July 15 plot where an explosive was packed inside a meat mincer and carried in luggage as “one of the most sophisticated plots that has ever been attempted on n soil”.
“With assistance from the IS commander, the accused assembled the IED … into what we believe was a functioning IED to be placed on that flight,” Mr Phelan said.
“At no stage did the IED breach security.”
Mr Phelan said the plot was possibly abandoned because the luggage was too heavy.