RealNews

Australian man charged in court with supporting Al-Qaeda

An Australian man has faced court, charged with supporting the Al-Qaeda Islamic extremist group while in Pakistan two years ago. Joseph Terrence Thomas, 31, of Melbourne, was charged with providing support or resources to Al-Qaeda in Karachi which would help the organisation plan or carry out a terrorist act. Thomas, who was deported from Pakistan last year after being detained for five months over suspected Al-Qaeda links, was also charged with intentionally receiving funds from Al-Qaeda in Karachi between July 2002 and January 2003. Thomas was not required to enter a plea during his brief appearance in Melbourne Magistrate’s Court and was remanded in custody until February 10 next year. Before the court appearance, Australian Federal police said Thomas was also accused of making alterations to his passport to avoid detection by authorities. He was arrested early Thursday when counter-terrorism police swooped on his suburban home, seizing documents and computer equipment. Police alleged Thomas had close associations with known Al-Qaeda members and his arrest followed a lengthy investigation. Police said he is the first Australian to face specific charges relating to receiving terrorist funds and supporting a terrorist organisation since laws were tightened in 2002 in response to the September 11 attacks in the United States. The offences each carry a maximum 25-year jail term. Thomas, a former taxi driver, converted to Islam in 1999, when he married his Indonesian wife Maryati and adopted “Jihad” as his Muslim name. He took his wife and baby daughter to Pakistan in March 2001 in order to study Islam and become an imam, according to statements made by his family in Australia when he was detained in Pakistan. Full Story

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