Arsalan Khawaja jailed over fake terror claims | Sunday Observer

Arsalan Khawaja jailed over fake terror claims

8 November, 2020

The brother of Australian cricketer, Usman Khawaja has been jailed for at least two-and-a-half years after he attempted to frame two perceived love rivals as terrorists by writing fake threats in a notebook and making a lengthy phone call to a national security hotline.

Arsalan Khawaja, 40, wrote a series of detailed threats in a book belonging to his colleague Mohamed Kamer Nizamdeen, then handed it to his project manager at UNSW in August 2018. When police became involved, he misled officers about the book’s origins and claimed he simply found it.

The threats in the notebook – spanning 20 pages – mentioned getting bomb and weapons training, launching attacks in Australia and overseas, and targeting former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, police stations, an Anzac Day service, the Boxing Day Test match, and St Mary’s Cathedral.

Nizamdeen was arrested and held in Goulburn Supermax until police discovered the book was a hoax.

On Thursday, NSW District Court Judge Robert Weber said Khawaja was friends with a woman known as F2, and had been on several dinner dates with her, but she was not romantically interested in him. Khawaja wrote the notebook because he believed Nizamdeen was interested in the woman and wanted him ‘gone’.

Nizamdeen has denied any romantic connection with the woman and said he was dating his now-fiancée at the time.

The notebook was the second time Khawaja targeted a perceived rival. Judge Weber said Khawaja made a 34-minute phone call to a border watch hotline in January 2017 after a woman he previously dated, F1, started to date another man, known as M1.

“At the risk of stating the obvious, the offender did not take this development well. He was clearly obsessed with F1,” Judge Weber said.

“He felt the need to get M1 off the scene in the hope he could resurrect his relationship with F1.”

In the phone call, Khawaja falsely claimed M1 – who he had never met – had undergone weapons training in Pakistan, was in contact with two Islamist groups, and wanted to travel to Turkey on a pretend holiday where he actually crossed into Iraq and Syria.

Authorities investigated the claims but no action was taken against M1.

Judge Weber said serious allegations were made about M1, which were intended to have serious consequences, and Khawaja went to the trouble of investigating actual terrorist organisations, which he named in the phone call.

The judge said Khawaja’s actions in subsequently writing the notebook had the effect of an innocent man, Nizamdeen, being incarcerated in a maximum-security prison, and it is “inconceivable” that the notebook would not have been handed to police.

The judge said such “unforgivable behaviour” deserves a term of imprisonment. However, he accepted that Khawaja has shown remorse for his actions and has good prospects for rehabilitation.

Judge Weber also highlighted “uncontradicted expert evidence” that Khawaja lives with borderline personality disorder, which was in all probability causative of his offence.

The mental health diagnosis also means a custodial sentence may weigh more heavily on Khawaja.Judge Weber jailed Khawaja for a maximum of four years and six months, with a non-parole period of two years and six months, including a discount for pleading guilty.

Khawaja has been in custody since December 2018, after he attempted to contact F1 to get her to withhold her testimony. His sentence also includes this charge.

Khawaja will be eligible for parole in June 2021 with time served taken into account.-

The Sydney Morning Herald