Australian court reinstates terror conviction
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australia’s High Court reinstated a terrorism conviction Friday against a former Australian airline worker who published on the Internet a do-it-yourself book on how to wage holy war against non-Muslims.
The five judges unanimously overturned a lower court’s 2-1 majority decision that had quashed Sydney resident Belal Sadallah Khazaal’s conviction for producing a book knowing it was connected with assisting in a terrorist act. There was no evidence that it had resulted in a terrorist attack.
The charge was created in 2002 as part of a raft of tough new Australian terrorism laws legislated in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Khazaal, a 42-year-old former Qantas Airways employee, in 2003 became one of the first terror suspects to be charged under the laws.
The 110-page e-book advocated widespread assassinations, identified targets and outlined numerous methods of killing. It recommended shooting down planes and described how to make bombs.
Khazaal’s lawyers had argued that except for a few paragraphs he had written, the book was compiled from material already freely available on the Internet.
But the tough new counterterror laws placed an onus of proof on Khazaal, an unusual concept under Australian criminal law. The High Court ruled that Khazaal had failed to provide sufficient evidence that the e-book was not intended to assist in a terrorist act.
Khazaal originally was convicted by a New South Wales state Supreme Court jury in 2008 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He must serve nine years before he is eligible for parole.
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