Australia test cricketer Usman Khawaja was charged by counter-terrorism on Tuesday, 4 December police over a bid to implicate a love rival in a fictitious terrorist plot.
Arsalan Khawaja, 39, was arrested Tuesday morning after being pulled over while driving in Sydney. He was charged at the Parramatta Police Station, in the city’s west, with forgery by making a false document, attempting to pervert justice and lying to police.
At a brief court appearance, Khawaja was bailed on condition he surrender his passport and report to police three times as week.
The arrest comes as Usman Khawaja prepares with the Australia squad in Adelaide ahead of their first Test against India, the start of a crucial four-match series in which the home side could challenge India’s position as the world’s top-ranked test team.
Arsalan Khawaja is alleged to have loaded information relating to a fake terrorist plot onto a notebook computer used by a colleague at the University of New South Wales. The plot included a purported attempt to assassinate former Australia prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and his deputy Julie Bishop.
There were also blueprints for attacks on landmarks, including the Sydney Opera House.
The notebook, belonging to 25-year-old Sri Lanka-born PhD student Mohamed Nizamdeen, was discovered in an office in the university at the university.
Nizamdeen was arrested, charged with terrorist offenses and held in solitary confinement for four weeks at Sydney’s Goulburn Supermax prison before being freed.
Police allege Khawaja and Nizamdeen were rivals for the affection of the same woman, leading Khawaja to devise the plot which led to his arrest on Tuesday.
“We believe this was planned and it was calculated,” the Assistant Commissioner of the New South Wales Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Command, Mick Willing, said.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said Nizamdeen is planning to sue police but Commissioner Willing said officers had acted properly in the face of what seemed a real threat.
“We regret the circumstances which led to him being charged and the time he subsequently spent in custody,” he said. “We feel very sorry for him and what has happened to him but we had to act early at the time, given the threats contained in that notebook.”