Brother of Aussie cricketer Usman Khawaja jailed for terrorism lies

Arsalan Tariq Khawaja, pictured here at court in 2018.
Arsalan Tariq Khawaja, brother of Australian cricketer Usman, has been jailed. Image: AAP/Getty

The brother of Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja has been jailed for at least two years and six months for causing a co-worker to be locked up in a maximum-security jail by framing him with false terrorism claims.

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

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The entries 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.

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.

Usman Khawaja, pictured here with brother Arsalan in 2017.
Usman Khawaja (2nd R) with Rachel McLellan (C), brother Arsalan Khawaja (2nd L) and his parents in 2017. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

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

Khawaja pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and dishonestly influencing a public official.

He also asked the judge to take into account further matters of forging a document for a public official to accept it as genuine and inducing a witness to give false testimony.

Arsalan Tariq Khawaja’s ‘unforgivable’ behaviour

After Khawaja presented the authorities with the notebook, Mr Nizamdeen was arrested and held in a high-security jail for one month until the truth was discovered.

Describing his victim impact statement as “compelling evidence of the trauma and emotional harm” suffered by Mr Nizamdeen, the judge noted he was unable to go back to his job and has returned to Sri Lanka.

His report of having serious flashbacks to his time in prison was hardly surprising, given the innocent man spent part of his time in an isolation cell in a maximum security prison, the judge said.

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

In the call he named his famous brother as a possible target of the man.

The judge accepted psychiatric evidence that Khawaja had a borderline personality disorder which provided some explanation as to why such an intelligent man resorted to such “unforgivable” behaviour.

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