Good humored lawyer and his client.
Remember Belal Saadallah Khazaal? The Qantas cabin cleaner that turned author of a practical terrorism manual? The Muslim Jihadist that won bail thus appearing to avoid nine-year minimum sentence—a matter that astonished many and cast serious doubt upon our legal system at the time?
Well, sanity, if not justice, prevailed last week when a full bench of the High Court revoked Khazaal’s bail. The 40-page ruling found the original conviction namely that under the nom de plume Abu Mohamed Attawheedy, Khazaal he had assembled a handy 110-page e-book titled: “Provisions on the rules of jihad – short judicial rulings and organisational instructions for fighters and mujahideen against infidels.” The work, which might well be plagiarised, was graphic tutorial to a multitude of ways to kill the infidels mentioned in the title, an undertaking that would include 97.75% of all Australians. In the lofty sights were targets like the then US President Bush, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and secretary of state Colin Powell.
Back in court, Khazaal’s persuasive and likeable lawyer, Charles Waterstreet SC, brought wry humour into the stodgy order of a criminal courtroom stunning many with his statement that bail should again be granted his client because it was “late on Friday” and this [decision] has happened very “suddenly.” He also informed their honours that their determination was “personally traumatic” for his client. Comedy? Nine years of fourteen in the slammer is meant to be personally traumatic. A wit like Charles who once wrote, “I hate the people I live with, and I live alone” was surely pulling their honours’ collective legs.
Maître Waterstreet has prior form.
From the Justinian October 16 1995: “As the actress said to the barrister.
‘I’ll have the Brett Whiteleys, you can have the Tupperware and the Brescia beanbag,’ noted Thespian Kate Fitzpatrick told her former lover, Sydney Barrister Charles Waterstreet, in the Supreme Court before Brownie J.
The courtroom stoush between the two old horizontal folk dancers was the only thing to amuse in a jaded Sydney September.”
“Not guilty” Khazaal pleaded originally to knowingly making a document connected with terrorism and attempting to incite the commission of a terrorist act, even though his book recommended a jihad of extreme violence to advance Islamism throughout the world. Nevertheless, his book was dedicated to, “all mujaheddin everywhere, all martyrs of Islam, prisoners languishing in the prisons of tyrants be it infidels, apostates or hypocrites, Christians, Jews, or infidels, idolater and apostate.” That was for starters!
Waterstreet did not represent Khazall at his first trial in which Crown prosecutor Peter Neil said the book praised the September 11, 2001 strikes on the United States and “urged others to go out and do similar things.” Khazaal still claimed innocence. “The terrorist actions which the book promoted and attempted to urge… range from small scale such as individual murders to large-scale assassinations and murder, such as exploding bombs in public places and shooting down of planes,” said the prosecutor.
That Khazaal’s first conviction was quashed puzzled the layperson given the book’s more detailed instructions. “Training members of an assassination team; stages of the assassination process; various methods of assassination, including wireless detonation, letter bombing, booby trapping or detonating a car, sniping, smothering, hitting with a hammer and booby trapping a room; and targets that should be assassinated.” Chapter 10 included persons holding public offices, including, “diplomats, ambassadors and the military”, of ‘enemy nationalities’ or of the Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist religions.”
Evidence given in 2008 included reports from the US CIA, ASIO and other intelligence organisations linking Khazaal to Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda including Muslim clerics under surveillance in Australia.
Also, alleged was Khazaal’s association with Abu Dahdah who was connected with the Madrid train bombings. And, in December 2003 a Beirut Military court sentenced Khazaal in absentia for funding a bombing campaign in Lebanon.
However, for an “innocent” man, if not also a pea-brained plagiarist, some of his suggested means of dispatch were bizarre. One such method was to wrap the “target” in “a strong plastic bag” advising that it leaves almost no trace on the body and could leave the impression that it was suicide…. He hadn’t heard of forensics!
“The smothering section” includes drowning and the “cake throwing technique.” This is crackerjack! “A couple could pretend to be joking before attacking the target. This would lead to his eyes, nose, and mouth being plugged [with cake] and loses the ability to breathe.” Chocolate profiteroles, please. Twelve methods of assassination were explained; detonating a car from a distance, attacking motorcades, shooting down planes, booby trapping rooms storming houses sniping, and poisoning. Part of his defence was that the publication was a sort of journalistic exercise.
Waterstreet QC would know of this madness. Many would wonder why a lawyer of such note would represent a creature like Khazaal. I once posed that question to a close friend who was preferred counsel to society’s most evil scumbags. “Firstly,” he said, “everyone is entitled to legal representation, and if they can afford me, I take it.”
Mr. Waterstreet is a prolific writer. His newspaper column lamenting the passing of his friend, “Memories of my mate the rake” portrays him as a debauched but humorous, and sensitive larrikin. The sort of bloke you’d invite to dinner.
I suspect Charles might be akin to my friend in that when younger would go home after defending dregs of humanity, hug his wife, down a stiff Scotch, and play with his children. “It’s like unblocking sewers,” he said—it’s what criminal lawyers must do.”
Thought for the week: Khazaal would have made no money from his book. Who might have paid the “silk”?