Melbourne – An former Australian taxi driver known as “Jihad Jack” was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday for receiving money and an air ticket from al-Qaeda.
Joseph Thomas, a Muslim convert, was the first Australian jailed under new anti-terrorism funding laws.
Thomas had faced a maximum 25 years in jail for accepting 3 500 US dollars in cash and the air ticket home from a senior al-Qaeda operative in Pakistan.
But supreme court Justice Philip Cummins sentenced the 32-year-old to a far lower term of five years’ jail, with a non-parole period of two years, saying he had cooperated with authorities and had good prospects for rehabilitation….
Prosecutors alleged Thomas trained at al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan before the group launched its September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and then stayed in safe houses frequented by al-Qaeda operatives after moving to Pakistan in 2002.
In February a jury acquitted Thomas of the most serious charges of providing resources to a terrorist group.
But he was convicted of receiving funds from a terrorist organisation and of falsifying his passport to disguise how long he had been in Pakistan….
In handing down the sentence, Cummins said Thomas had committed a serious offense by linking up with Al-Qaeda and rejected suggestions the Australian had been “foolish or naive”.
“Your conduct shows you were well capable of being manipulative,” he said.
But the judge also said Thomas had excellent prospects for rehabilitation, and that his cooperation with police has been valuable.
Excellent prospects for rehabilitation? Really? Has he repudiated the jihad ideology? Or is he perhaps again showing that he is well capable of being manipulative?