Sri Lankan student charged with terrorism in Sydney released on bail

26th Oct 2018
Sri Lankan student charged with terrorism in Sydney released on bail

PhD student Kamer Nizamdeen was arrested on August 30
(Photo courtesy of Kamer Nizamdeen)

Aqila Mumthaz

Kamer Nizamdeen, a Sri Lankan PhD student working at University of South Wales as a business systems analyst since 2016, was arrested at the Kensington campus on August 30. He was charged the next day with a terrorism-related offence. His friends and family claimed that he was framed for the alleged terrorism charges.

On September 28, after spending four weeks in jail, the public prosecutor said there was no “conclusive” proof that the writing that named several locations and individuals as “potential targets” in the notebook was Nizamdeen’s.

“The prosecution has become aware that an expert handwriting examiner found an inconclusive result on the relevant entries contained in the notebook,” Prosecutor Christina Choi told the Central Local Court in Sydney.
“Without a conclusive expert opinion suggesting the defendant was the relevant author, evidence for the charge has been significantly weakened.

“The prosecution concedes these are exceptional circumstances.”

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the court heard other material belonging to Nizamdeen including his computer and mobile phone did not reveal any extremist ideology.

“Police case is hopeless, as notes in question are not his! We will continue to seek justice until my client is fully exonerated,” said Nizamdeen’s lawyer, Moustafa Kheir.

Nizamdeen’s bail conditions include reporting to the police twice a week, live at an address in St Ives and not contact any University of South Wales staff or prosecution witnesses.

After his release, Nizamdeen posted a video online.“I have just been granted bail and am a free man,” he said.

“I have never been more proud of being Sri Lankan after seeing the immense support for me and believing that I’m innocent, which I am, so thank you so much.”

On August 31, police told a media conference Nizamdeen appeared to be an “Islamic State affiliate”.

The accused is related to Sri Lankan MP Faiszer Musthapha, who is the country’s Sports and Local Government Minister. He is also the grandson of late Jehan Kamer Cassim, former chairman of one of Sri Lanka’s biggest banks, Bank of Ceylon.

His arrest came after a tip-off from a colleague who allegedly found a notebook that named several locations and individuals as “potential targets”. Detective Michael McTiernan said the charges laid against Nizamdeen were “serious and significant”.

“At this stage, there is a number of locations and individuals named in that document who are potential targets,” he told reporters on August 31.

After arresting him at  university during the day, police executed a search warrant on his Zetland address in the middle of the night and a number of electronic items were seized for further examination.

Police allege Nizamdeen, who does not have any criminal history in Australia, was operating by himself but did not believe he was capable of carrying out a terror attack.

“At this stage, it appears that this is an individual operating on his own. There is certainly some further investigation that is required but again it is a matter that is before the courts,” New South Wales Joint Counter Terrorism Team Commander acting Superintendent, Michael Sheehy, said at a press conference.

“From the documentation, we believe he would be affiliated with ISIS,” Detective Superintendent Mick Sheehy told the media hours after the arrest.
The police said he had returned to his native Sri Lanka and “other areas” in the past, although police refused to specify where exactly he had visited.
His friends in Sri Lanka took to social media to defend him.

Shehan Bhavan, a friend of Nizamdeen, questioned the credibility of the evidence against him. “Why would an IT savvy person like him have a notebook full of places in Sydney? He is being framed for his name,” he said on a facebook.

“He would have had absolutely no reason to engage in such disgusting, hateful crimes to a city which has been extremely opening to him for the past 6 years,” he wrote in a post that was shared by a friend, Mithra De Alwis.

“He has been falsely accused and as a justification of having no conclusive evidence their [the police’s] motive is to prolong his stay under custody to simply save themselves.”

“He was an open-minded Muslim who has been framed by someone with immense jealousy in his heart. Jealousy on his accolades, his position and the type of character he has developed,” his 19-year-old brother, Kaliq, said in a posting that is being circulated on Social Media.

Kaliq, responding to the police statements reported in the media said that there was an attempt to “mystify the public with vague statements.”

“When the media tells you that he travelled to Sri Lanka and ‘other areas’ please understand that ‘other areas’ are not Syria or any war-torn region in the Middle East. It is simply the United States of America where he travelled to visit family. When they tell you that they raided his apartment and found ‘Electronic Gadgets’ please note that they are referring to a Phone, Laptop and an Xbox. To he who has done this and framed my brother, I sincerely cannot speak for my parents but I can forgive you. I hope you look deeply into your heart and feel guilt in your horrendous crime. I hope you can find God and that you can have sincere repentance and come out and tell the truth,” he said in a final plea to the suspected framer.

Nizamdeen had worked with the New South Wales Police in 2016 to develop an app to help people adapt to life in Australia, which was presented at the Parliament House. He was also selected as UNSW Hero of the Week last year.

“Success for me, being happy, doesn’t always have to be about money, it’s not about the high-ranking job. Success is if you’re comfortable with where you are,” he said.

One Response to “Sri Lankan student charged with terrorism in Sydney released on bail”

Jack RocheOctober 26, 2018

I don’t think it was a case of him being framed but rather, once again, ineptitude in relation to ‘intelligence’…


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