Australian man jailed 9 years over DIY jihad book

An ex-airline worker was jailed for nine years in Australia on Friday for producing a do-it-yourself jihad manual including how-to guides on bomb-making, assassinations and shooting down planes.

Former Qantas cabin cleaner Belal Khazaal was arrested in June 2004 over his Arabic-language "Provisions of the Rules of Jihad: Short Judicial Rulings and Organisational Instructions for Fighters and Mujahideen Against Infidels".

The 110-page book by the 39-year-old Lebanese-Australian included a hit-list naming former US leader George W. Bush and his CIA chief George Tenet, and advice on letter-bombs, booby-traps and kidnappings.

Local media have said Khazaal, once a prominent Islamic youth leader here, was a Taliban-trained confidant of Osama bin Laden and a leader of Al-Qaeda in Australia.

He was arrested less than a year after being sentenced in absentia to 10 years' hard labour by a Lebanese court for alleged involvement in funding a bomb attack on a Beirut McDonald's restaurant, along with other blasts.

Khazaal denied the book was intended to incite extremist acts, but was found guilty by a Supreme Court jury last September of knowingly making a document connected with assistance in a terrorist act.

Sentencing judge Megan Latham said it "beggars belief that a person of average intelligence who has devoted themselves to the study of Islam over some years would fail to recognise the nature of the material".

Latham described the book as a "terrorism training manual" which advocated "widespread and indiscriminate loss of life, serious injury and serious property damage".

"Literature of the type sourced by the prisoner is capable of, and has been shown to foment, terrorist activity," said Latham, adding that Khazaal had showed no remorse or contrition.

The document was posted on a radical Islamist site under the pseudonym Abu Mohamed Attawheedy, and examined why some assassinations failed while others succeeded, such as the 1981 killing of former Eqyptian president Anwar Sadat.

According to a 2004 profile by the public broadcaster ABC, Khazaal had militant training in Afghanistan in 1998 and was under surveillance by Australia's spy agency for a decade before his arrest.

According to a CIA report obtained by ABC's Four Corners programme, Khazaal had also been linked to Spanish Al-Qaeda operative Abu Dahdah and was suspected of plotting blasts attacking US interests in Venezuela and the Philippines.

Khazaal earlier denied being a member of Al-Qaeda but said he thought bin Laden was a "good man" in a 2003 TV interview.

He was the first person to be convicted of the charge and received a maximum of 12 years, with his non-parole period ending in August 2017.