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LEBANON FINDS AUSSIE TERRORIST BELAL SAADALLAH KHAZAAL GUILTY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 18, 2008

November 15, 2008

by Natalie O’Brien

Article from: The Australian

A FORMER Qantas employee who became the second person convicted Belal Saadallah Khazaal, of Lakemba, in Sydney, Australiaunder Australia’s tough anti-terror laws has been found guilty in absentia of terrorism charges in Lebanon.

At a sentencing hearing in the NSW Supreme Court yesterday, lawyers for Belal Saadallah Khazaal, who has been found guilty of producing a book knowing it could assist in a terrorist act, argued that his convictions in Lebanon should not be taken into account because he was never able to put his side of the case.

Khazaal, 38, of Lakemba in Sydney’s southwest, was convicted in absentia in Lebanon for his alleged involvement in funding the 2003 bombing of a McDonald’s restaurant in Beirut.

He was sentenced in absentia to 15 years for falsifying a passport for another Australian man who had fled to Lebanon from Australia.

This information was not revealed to the jury in his NSW Supreme Court trial, at which he was convicted in September of producing a book described as a “do-it-yourself terrorism guide” containing an assassination hit-list that included US President George W. Bush.

In the first conviction of its kind in Australia, Khazaal was found guilty of the offence of compiling a book knowing it could assist in a terrorist act.

However, the NSW Supreme Court jury failed to reach a verdict on a second charge against Khazaal of attempting to incite a terrorist act.

On that basis, Khazaal’s barrister, George Thomas, argued that any sentence handed down to his client must be at the lower end of the scale.

Khazaal was arrested and charged in June 2004 over the publication on the internet of a 110-page book titled Provision on the Rules of Jihad – short judicial rulings and organisational instructions for fighters and mujahideen against infidels.

He was among the first people charged after the federal Government introduced tough new terrorism laws in late 2003.

Khazaal’s conviction followed that in June 2006 of Sydney architect Faheem Khalid Lodhi, who became the first person convicted under the new laws.

The book listed various means of assassination, including letter-bombs, booby-trapping cars, kidnappings, poisonings and shooting down planes.

The book also contained a hit-list of officials and countries to be targeted, including Australia and the US.

In the Supreme Court yesterday, Khazaal’s close friend and doctor Tamir Khalil said Khazaal was suffering from medical ailments including a possible neurological condition that might have affected his behaviour at the time of the offence.

Dr Khalil said he had known Khazaal for many years and had never known him to display any violent tendencies, or even to talk about violence. But the doctor said Khazaal’s medical history indicated a possibility he might have a tumour on his brain and this should be investigated.

Khazaal’s wife, Mervat, gave evidence, telling the court her husband spent a lot of time working with angry Muslim youths, trying to protect them from their own emotions.

“He tried to cool them down,” Ms Khazaal told the court.

She described her husband as a lovely man who was honest and generous and respected her.

During the trial, US terrorism expert Evan Kohlmann described the book as a do-it-yourself guide to terrorism aimed at people who did not have Osama bin Laden’s telephone number.

Khazaal will be sentenced at a date to be fixed next year.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE AUSTRALIAN’

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