Khawaja brother jailed for terrorism lies

Margaret Scheikowski
·3-min read

The brother of Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja could be freed from jail in eight months after being sentenced for his "unforgiveable" actions in framing a colleague using a fake terror plot.

Arsalan Tariq Khawaja admitted forging entries in the notebook of his UNSW co-worker Kamer Nizamdeen in August 2018 after being jealous of his contact with a mutual female friend.

Mr Nizamdeen was arrested, locked up in a maximum-security jail for four weeks and incorrectly labelled a terrorist in the media before police discovered he had been set up.

Khawaja also admitted phoning authorities in 2017 about a love rival, another innocent man of whom he was jealous, and made visa and terrorism accusations including that the man had trained overseas.

In the NSW District Court on Thursday, Judge Robert Weber jailed the 40-year-old for four years and six months with a non-parole period of two years and six months.

The term was backdated to when he first went into custody, meaning he will be eligible for release on parole in June 2021.

Khawaja made entries on at least 22 pages of a notebook, already containing Mr Nizamdeen's writing about ordinary work matters, before handing it in to university staff.

They included death threats against then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and the governor-general, as well as lists to attack police stations, an Anzac Day ceremony, the Boxing Day Test match and landmarks including St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.

Judge Weber said Khawaja's "unforgivable" actions had dire consequences for Mr Nizamdeen, whose victim impact statement revealed the trauma and emotional harm suffered by him.

He has returned to Sri Lanka, but is now unable to visit his fiancee in the US after his visa was cancelled as a result of the incident.

Khawaja pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and dishonestly influencing a public official and admitted forging a document and inducing a witness to give false testimony.

He sobbed at his sentence hearing when apologising for his actions saying "Kamer is a top bloke, he is a friend of mine and I let him down" and also spoke of being "terrified of abandonment".

The judge referred to the 2017 incident when Khawaja was clearly obsessed with an ex-girlfriend and her new relationship, and rang the Border Watch hotline in 2017 about the man whom he'd never met.

He told the officer he had "disturbing" information about the man's extremist ideology and plans, and named his famous brother as a possible target.

Khawaja "took the trouble" to investigate actual terrorist organisations in which he sought to implicate the man, in order to get him incarcerated or deported or both, the judge said.

Psychiatrists have diagnosed Khawaja with a borderline personality disorder and the judge accepted he had good prospects for rehabilitation if he complied with a mental health plan.

He also pointed to his intelligence, educational achievements and ongoing family support.

Usman Khawaja previously testified of looking up to his brother who had been very popular, did well at school and university, worked at IBM at a high level and obtained clearance to do government work.

"Up until this period of his life, he had been an ideal citizen ..... a model citizen, up until recently."

He had the full support of their parents, himself and their other brother.