Australian banned from contacting Bin Laden

An Australian magistrate has ridiculed as “farcical” a government order banning a terrorism suspect from contacting the world’s most wanted man, Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

Magistrate Graham Mowbray made the comment while hearing an application to extend an interim “control order” placed on Joseph “Jihad Jack” Thomas after his conviction on terrorism charges was overturned on appeal. The control order restricts Thomas’s movements, imposes a curfew and prohibits him from contacting a list of people – including Bin Laden.

Political commentators have also scorned the inclusion of Bin Laden on the list, suggesting the government should instead be delighted if Thomas could lead them to the man the US has been hunting for five years. Thomas’ lawyer Lex Lasry, said the list included 13 people who were either dead or in custody at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He described the situation as “ridiculous”.

The government used controversial new anti-terror laws for the first time on Monday to place the control order on Thomas after an appeal court overturned his conviction and five-year jail sentence for receiving money and an air ticket from Al-Qaeda.

A control order can be granted if it is thought it might prevent a terrorist attack, or if it is suspected a person has received training from a terrorist organisation.

AFP, 31 August 2006