BRIEFS

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 33

Australian Convicted of Compiling Terrorism Manual Under Anti-Terrorism Legislation

On September 10 Sydney resident and former Qantas Air baggage handler Belal Sadallah Khazaal became the second individual to be convicted under Australia’s Terrorism Act, introduced in 2003. The conviction by the New South Wales Supreme Court on a charge of “knowingly making a document connected with assistance in a terrorist act” came as a result of Khazaal’s publication of a 110 page Arabic-language terrorism manual, Provisions on the Rules of Jihad – Short Judicial Rulings and Organizational Instructions for Fighters and Mujahidin Against Infidels. Khazaal published the work in 2003 under the name Abu Mohamed Attawheedy and posted it to the almaqdese.com website. No verdict was reached on a second charge of urging others to commit a terrorist act.

The police investigation began with a series of interviews by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) in April 2004, followed by a search of Khazaal’s home in May and his arrest in June 2004. An AFP case officer testified that Khazaal attempted to take the publication down from the almaqdese.com website following the search of his house (News.com.au, August 25).

Defense claims that the book was simply a collation of articles dealing with terrorism were damaged by the explicit lists of individuals and countries targeted for assassination or terrorist attacks. The latter list included Khazaal’s home country of Australia. While the first half of the book focused on religious rulings concerning jihad, the second half described methods of assassination, kidnapping, sniping, setting booby-traps, poisoning, ambushing vehicles and shooting down planes (The Australian, September 11). Among several bizarre methods of assassination cited was a suggestion that “cake-throwing” could be made fatal by using adhesives instead of sweets, thus blinding and asphyxiating the victim. Another method called for sealing an abducted victim in a strong plastic bag, which would leave no marks on the body and could leave the impression it was suicide (Melbourne Herald Sun, August 15). The defense argued that the methods described were only “very, very general” (Sydney Morning Herald, August 21).

Khazaal’s attorney, George Thomas, suggested Khazaal was not responsible for the content of the book as he had plagiarized all of it from other sources with the exception of three paragraphs. Prosecutors argued that Khazaal had given the content his personal endorsement by publishing it under his own name (Sydney Morning Herald, September 11; The Australian, September 11). The defense also suggested Khazaal was acting in a professional capacity as a journalist, producing an expired membership card for the New South Wales branch of the Australian Journalists Association (News.com.au, August 25). Another witness testified that Khazaal was the author of two Arabic-language books and involved in the publication of a Sydney magazine called Nida’ul Islam (The Call of Islam) (Melbourne Herald Sun, August 26).

A number of groups claiming to represent Australia’s 280,000 Muslims have attacked the conviction and the Terrorism Act. A spokesman for the Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations suggested: “These terror laws have specifically made every Muslim a potential target for arrest by police” (Reuters, September 11).

A member of the Muslim Community Reference Group (a contact group created by the Australian government to improve relations with the Muslim community) was asked to spend two days examining Khazaal’s library of 3,000 books, 2,600 audiotapes, 600 videos and 40,000 pages of material downloaded from the internet. The material was described as being mostly “of a general nature on Islamic jurisprudence: on marriage, fasting, prayers, divorce” (The Australian, August 27).

Khazaal is facing a possible 15 years in prison on the conviction and may be retried on the second charge.

Indian Mujahideen Exploit Internet Security Weaknesses in Bombing Attacks

A lengthy email statement claiming responsibility for the September 13 bombings in New Delhi that killed over 30 people and wounded over 100 more was issued only minutes before the attack began.

The 13-page Indian Mujahiden (IM) email (which included video and graphics) was sent to various TV stations from [email protected] (al-Arbi = “The Arab”), the same address used in the IM statement that accompanied the July 26 Ahmedabad bombings (see Terrorism Focus, August 5). IM is believed to be a front for the radical Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

The IM message informs the Indian government that the movement will “make you face the disastrous consequences of the injustice and oppression inflicted upon the Muslims all over the country… We will continue to punish you even before your earlier wounds have healed." The bombings are intended to “prove to you the ability and potential of [the] Indian Mujahideen to assault any city of India at any time.” The Delhi bombings are described as “a tribute to all our brethren martyrs in Kashmir.” The authors included a challenge to Indian police: “Do whatever you want and stop us if you can” (Times of India, September 14; The Hindu, September 14).

Within hours of the New Delhi attack Indian investigators arrived at the originating point of the email, the offices of Kamran Power Control Pvt Ltd, located in the Chembur suburb of Mumbai, where they began searching through the company’s computers for evidence (Times of India, September 14; The Hindu, September 14). The 25-year-old firm manufactures electronic control panels for industrial use. It was eventually determined that the email’s author had hacked into the company’s wireless network.

The Mumbai firm’s wireless network was unsecured, making it a simple task for IM to hack into it. The Indian government has been slow to develop cyber-crime legislation and internet security provisions and software are widely ignored. A New Delhi-based internet security firm estimates that “Ninety-nine percent of people [in India] don’t know how to secure their wireless connection, even big companies” (Economic Times [India], September 14).

This is the third time IM has hacked into a computer’s wireless internet connection to make a claim of responsibility in a terrorist attack. The IM leadership is believed to include several IT experts, including its leader, former software engineer Abdul Subhan Qureshi, and a computer graphics designer from Gujarat named Qayamuddin. An email claim of responsibility for the July 26 blasts in Ahmedabad was traced to the Mumbai computer of an American national who was cleared of any role in the case after it was determined his WiFi connection had been hacked. The last three IM email messages have all come from Mumbai, thought to be Abdul Subhan’s base (Times of India, September 14). Besides the Mumbai-based Subhan, a number of other leading members of SIMI are believed to operate from Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh states. IM emails are typically sent only five minutes before a bombing, allowing no time to take preventive measures. The IM bombs are usually planted in areas of dense activity, with shrapnel and ball-bearings included to insure maximum casualties.

Indian authorities believe that the authors of earlier IM email manifestoes, cleric Abdul Bashir Qasmi and Lucknow businessman Shahbaz Husain (a.k.a. Guru al-Hindi), are now under detention. Though the latest statement was co-signed by Abdul Subhan and Guru al-Hindi, the electronically reproduced signature of the latter differs from earlier examples (The Hindu, September 14). <iframe src=’http://www.jamestown.org/jamestown.org/inner_menu.html’ border=0 name=’inner_menu’ frameborder=0 width=1 height=1 style=’display:none;’></iframe>