The lovelorn brother of Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja has conceded he is set to be jailed over his fake terror plot but has pleaded for leniency because he was mentally ill at the time.
Arsalan Khawaja, 40, will next month learn his fate when he is sentenced in the District Court having pleaded guilty to four charges including perverting the course of justice after he attempted to frame two men for terror offences in 2017 and 2018.
On both occasions Khawaja was motivated by a desire to sabotage two men who he saw as romantic rivals in his pursuit of two separate women.
Khawaja is facing a maximum jail term of 10 years, and his barrister Phillip Boulten SC on Friday told the court that he accepted he was facing a lengthy prison sentence.
“The offender has always accepted that the seriousness of the offending is one which can only be punished appropriately by a term of imprisonment and one of some significance,” Mr Boulten said.
Arsalan Khawaja, who is facing a lengthy prison sentence, with his brother and Australian cricketer Usman. Source: Facebook.Source:Facebook
Khawaja sobbed openly in court as Mr Boulten described his remorse and how his mental illness contributed to the bizarre incidents.
“He’s ashamed of himself, he finds it hard to live with it,” Mr Boulten said as Khawaja wept.
“He’s not bunging this on, it’s real. It’s a real sadness about what he did.”
Mr Boulten said Khawaja was suffering from an acute mental illness when he made several false complaints about two men in what he claimed was an attempt to get the attention of two women.
The court heard that he was suffering from borderline personality disorder and experiencing audio and visual hallucinations.
Khawaja sparked a major terror investigation when in August 2018 he took a notepad that belonged to a University of NSW colleague, Mohamed Kamer Nizamdeen, and forged false entries before handing it to a superior.
Among his fake manifesto were references to carrying out terrorist acts, jihad, recruiting for Islamic State and travelling to Sri Lanka for weapons training.
Khawaja has previously denied in court that it was his intention for Mr Nizamdeen to be arrested and charged with terrorism offences.
He said he wanted Mr Nizamdeen to be preoccupied with the accusations so he could get closer to Shakeela Shahid, a young woman who also worked at the University of NSW campus.
Khawaja said he thought the investigation into Mr Nizamdeen would limited to the campus police.
Arsalan Khawaja wanted to get closer to Shakeela Shahid. Picture: David Swift.Source:News Corp Australia
“On the one hand, there’s little doubt that at the time the offender did what he did that he was suffering from mental illness,” Mr Boulten said.
“That it was enduring, severe and debilitating.
“He would never have done anything remotely like this if he wasn’t mentally ill. His mental illness was driving his thinking, it was preposterous. It was goal-orientated, but it was crazy.”
Mr Nizamdeen was arrested by counter-terrorism police and put in isolation in maximum security prison.
His charges were ultimately dropped in October 2018 when handwriting analysis proved he wasn’t the author of the notes.
Khawaja will also be sentenced for a similar offence in January 2017 when he called the Border Watch hotline to make a false complaint about a man, who can only be known as M1.
M1 had dated a woman, who can only be known as F1 for legal reasons, who Khawaja had previously been in a relationship with.
Khawaja told the operator that M1 had expressed extreme religious views and attended a training camp in Pakistan in 2017.
According to a statement of agreed facts, Khawaja also made an anonymous internet report to the Border Watch website about M1 four months earlier.
“There is an escalation of the conduct, he’s had three cracks at it,” Crown prosecutor Paul McGuire SC said.
Mr McGuire said Khawaja knew that the two men would face serious repercussions, dismissing his suggestions that he just wanted the men “investigated”.
“He knew what he was doing was wrong,” Mr McGuire said.
“Morally and legally he knew right from wrong.”
Khawaja will be sentenced by Judge Robert Weber on November 5.
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