Qantas handler-turned-terrorist faces new orders out of Supermax

 

 

Exclusive: One of Australia's most notorious terrorists, DIY jihadi Bilal Khazal, is about to walk free from jail.

Khazal, who is officially listed as Belal Khazaal, will be released from the Supermax unit at Goulburn prison on August 30 after completing his 12-year sentence for preparing an instruction manual on how to carry out terrorist attacks.

The Department of Home Affairs did not apply to the courts for a continued detention order to detain him beyond the end of his prison term.

Bilal Khazal during a previous appearance at the NSW Supreme Court.
Bilal Khazal during a previous appearance at the NSW Supreme Court.

A spokeswoman for Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton confirmed the Australian Federal Police had instead applied for an interim control order for Khazal upon his release.

The AFP application was adjourned in the Federal Court in Sydney yesterday until August 26, when an interim control order is expected to be handed down.

Control orders are used to monitor and restrict the activities of convicted jihadis through methods such as electronic monitoring.

"An application for a continuing detention order was sought by the Minister for Home Affairs in relation to Mr Khazal, but legal thresholds were deemed not to have been met and the application had to be discontinued,'' the spokeswoman said.

Bilal Khazal, on far right, is flanked by family and supporters outside the NSW Supreme Court, Sydney.
Bilal Khazal, on far right, is flanked by family and supporters outside the NSW Supreme Court, Sydney.

It's believed authorities dropped their bid for a continued detention order after receiving legal advice that the threshold to hold Khazal could not be met.

No applications have been made for terrorists to remain behind bars since the passage of the Criminal Code Amendment (High Risk Terrorist Offenders) Act in 2016, with authorities consistently finding it too difficult to reach the high legal threshold required to hold someone in jail beyond the completion of their sentence.

 

 

The Government is working on a potential application for a continued detention order against Abdul Nacer Benbrika, the spiritual leader of a string of terror plots in Melbourne and Sydney, who is due out in November at the completion of his 15-year sentence, but it is not guaranteed to proceed.

In a court order handed down in April, details were revealed about Khazal's behaviour inside jail.

Authorities running a deradicalisation program noted he continued to identify himself as a person of religious authority for the Islamic faith, and "holds a position of status, control and influence over others of the same faith, both in custody and in the community.''

It was noted that he retained the title of Sheik, despite not having received extensive instruction in Islamic learning. "Mr Khazal's lack of condemnation of al-Qaeda is also considered problematic,'' authorities noted.

Bilal Khazal arrives in handcuffs at the NSW Supreme Court for his sentencing hearing.
Bilal Khazal arrives in handcuffs at the NSW Supreme Court for his sentencing hearing.

Authorities further noted that Khazal had issued "anti-Islamic State'' edicts which had caused a split within the "extremist Islamic population'' inside the high-risk management unit at the jail.

"Of particular interest is Mr Khazal's fatwas (religious edicts) which he has issued/promulgated denouncing Islamic State as illegitimate…"

"It should however be noted that this shift is not from extremist Islam, but rather Mr Khazal has effectively convinced his fellow inmates to switch allegiance from Islamic State to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham without the need to express such views openly,'' authorities noted.

Bilal Khazal leaves the Supreme Court in Sydney in 2004. Picture: Alan Pryke
Bilal Khazal leaves the Supreme Court in Sydney in 2004. Picture: Alan Pryke

As part of an unsuccessful bid for parole, Khazal wrote to authorities and told them he condemned and rejected "Al-Qaeda and all like organisations, their ideologies, teachings, and actions. I repudiate all supportive statements I have made about Al-Qaeda in the past.''

"I reject the contents of the book that led to my conviction and now fully appreciate the possible consequences and danger of its contents,'' he wrote.

He said he did not hold himself out to be a Sheik, and that some called him that out of respect for his culture.

Originally published as Qantas handler-turned-terrorist faces new orders out of Supermax


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