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Written by: Staff

SYDNEY, Feb 26 (Reuters) A jury has found an Australian man guilty of receiving 3,500 dollars and a plane ticket from al Qaeda, the first Australian to be convicted under the country's new tough anti-terrorism laws, local media reported today.

Former taxi driver Joseph Terrence Thomas, 32, a father of three, faces up to 25 years in jail for receiving funds from al Qaeda.

Thomas also faces two years in prison after he was found guilty of a second charge of possessing a false passport.

But the jury found Thomas not guilty of two charges he had intentionally provided support and resources to Osama bin Laden's militant network between July 2002 and January 2003.

His lawyer Rob Stary said Thomas had won a ''significant victory'' by being acquitted of the most serious charges of providing support and resources to a terrorist organisation.

The Victoria state Supreme Court jury of nine women and three men took just over two days to reach their verdicts.

During a week-long trial, the prosecution said an al Qaeda agent named Khaled bin Attash gave Thomas $3,500 and a plane ticket back to Australia while he was in Pakistan.

Thomas was detained in Pakistan in 2003 and told Australian police during an interview there in March that year that Attash wanted him to conduct surveillance of military installations in Australia, prosecutor Nicolas Robinson told the court.

He said Thomas had trained at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan for three months in 2001 and had told police he had seen bin Laden in close quarters several times during that period.

Thomas's defence team said Thomas planned to use the money bin Attash gave him to help his family and not for terrorism.

The court remanded Thomas in custody for pre-sentence hearing on March 2.


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