The older brother of Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja has pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and dishonestly influencing a public official after police accused him of creating a fake terror plot to frame another man.
Arsalan Khawaja, 39, was arrested last year after authorities were alerted to a notebook found at the Sydney campus of the University of NSW which appeared to detail plans to kill politicians and attack landmarks in the city.
Counter-terrorism police initially arrested and charged Mohamed Kamer Nilar Nizamdeen, a Sri Lankan PhD student at the university, with knowingly making a document connected with terrorism.
He spent four weeks behind bars before he was granted bail. Charges were dropped in October 2018, two months after his arrest.
At the time, NSW Police assistant commissioner Mick Willing said forensic examination of the notebook showed “irregularities between examples of Mr Nizamdeen’s handwriting and the handwriting in the notebook that specified the threats of acts of terrorism”.
Khawaja was arrested and charged in December last year, with police alleging he framed Mr Nizamdeen after a dispute between the pair.
Police laid further charges later that month, alleging Khawaja contacted a witness through her brother and intended to persuade her to give false evidence in the case against him.
In court documents which indicated why Khawaja was refused police bail, police said the offences he was charged with have “serious implications for law enforcement who were required to initiate a protracted and large scale investigation into terrorism offences”.
“His actions resulted in the arrest and subsequent detention of an innocent party,” the documents said.
“He has shown a willingness to deceive authorities in furtherance of his personal desires as well as attempting to exculpate himself from the matters subject of the terrorism investigation.”
Police said there are “many facets” of evidence which pointed to Khawaja, including forensic document examination, telephone intercepts, material discovered during searches, digital forensic material, and accounts from independent witnesses.
The case was “bolstered” by handwriting examination, police said.
Last week Khawaja pleaded guilty at Parramatta Local Court to perverting the course of justice and dishonestly influencing a Commonwealth public official.
Charges of forging a document for a public official to accept it as genuine and inducing a witness to give false testimony will be taken into account when he is sentenced.
Two other charges, relating to making a false document and influencing a witness to procure an acquittal, were withdrawn.
Khawaja, who is in custody, will face the District Court in Sydney on November 29.