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September 26, 2009

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Airline worker jailed for terrorism

AN Australian court sentenced a former Qantas Airways baggage handler to 12 years in prison yesterday for publishing a do-it-yourself jihad book on the Internet.

A New South Wales state Supreme Court jury found Belal Khazaal, 39, guilty of making a document connected with assisting terrorism. The September 2003 book is not linked with a known attack.

The Lebanon-born Sydney resident denied the charge and said the book was never intended to incite terrorism.

The 110-page book contained instructions on how to detonate bombs, shoot down planes from the ground, and assassinate senior American and Australian government officials including then US President George W. Bush.

Justice Megan Latham said she found it "unsurprising" that a jury rejected his defense. "It beggars belief that a person of average intelligence who has devoted themselves to the study of Islam over some years would fail to recognize the nature of the material," she said.

Khazaal was sentenced to 12 years in prison with no chance of parole for nine years.

The book was written in Arabic and titled "Provisions of the Rules of Jihad: Short Judicial Rulings and Organizational Instructions for Fighters and Mujahideen Against Infidels."

Khazaal compiled the book from a range of Internet sources, his lawyer George Thomas told the court at an earlier sentencing hearing.

He had faced a potential maximum sentence of 15 years in prison under Australian counterterrorism laws enacted a year after the September 11, 2001, al-Qaida attacks on the United States.


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