Test cricketer Usman Khawaja’s brother arrested over fake terror ‘hit list’

Arsalan Khawaja, right, the brother of Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja, leaves Parramatta Police Station in Sydney on Dece. 4, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 04 December 2018
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Test cricketer Usman Khawaja’s brother arrested over fake terror ‘hit list’

  • Arsalan Khawaja convinced Australian police his university colleague Mohamed Kamer Nizamdeen was embroiled in a plot to kill the then prime minister
  • Sri Lankan-born PhD student Nizamdeen spent a month in solitary confinement at a remote high-security prison

SYDNEY: The brother of Australia Test cricketer Usman Khawaja was charged by police Tuesday with framing a love rival for a “hit list” that sparked a major counterterrorism investigation.
Arsalan Khawaja, 39, was released on bail after appearing in a Sydney court on charges of forgery and attempting to pervert justice.
For months he appears to have convinced Australian police that his 26-year-old university colleague Mohamed Kamer Nizamdeen was embroiled in a plot to kill then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Sri Lankan-born PhD student Nizamdeen spent a month in solitary confinement at a remote high-security prison, where he was questioned about targets including not just Turnbull, but reportedly also the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House.
He was eventually released in September, when police realized the script did not match his handwriting. The charges were later dropped.
“What we will be alleging is that he (Nizamdeen) was set up in a planned and calculated manner. Motivated, in part, by a personal grievance,” New South Wales assistant commissioner Mick Willing told reporters.
Willing said police believe Khawaja orchestrated the set-up and may have been motivated by a dispute over a woman.
“We will allege that that is part of the process. But as you can appreciate, the matter is before the court, so we can’t go into much detail,” said Willing.
Australian police now say they “regret” arresting and holding Nizamdeen, and have paid his court costs. Willing confirmed there is no ongoing threat to the community.
Nizamdeen is seeking further damages from authorities and has since returned to Sri Lanka.
“What authorities have done to this young man is absolutely unforgivable,” his lawyer Moustafa Kheir said after the charges were dropped in October.
“It’s a terrible experience. He is a young man that has done everything right in life. And he has gone through supermax jail — unforgivable circumstances.”
Nizamdeen’s exact relationship with Khawaja has not been stated by police.
Pakistan-born Australian batsman Usman Khawaja, who is due to make a return from injury this Thursday against India in the first of a four-Test series, made a brief statement calling for privacy while the case ran its course.
“This is a matter for police to deal with. Out of respect for the process it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment,” he said.


Petra Kvitova positive ahead of Dubai final against Belinda Bencic

Updated 22 February 2019
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Petra Kvitova positive ahead of Dubai final against Belinda Bencic

  • World No. 4 wins third three-setter of the week beat Hsieh Su-wei and claim place in the final.
  • Swiss star Bencic deals a forehand smash to Svitolina's chances of unprecedented hat-trick.

LONDON: If Petra Kvitova does get her hands on the Dubai trophy against Belinda Bencic on Saturday, she will be quick to admit she did it the hard way.
The two-time Wimbledon champion was once again made to toil at the Aviation Club as she finally overcame Hsieh Su-Wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. It was her third three-setter in four days and came about as much through sheer grit and determination as any superior groundstrokes or serves.
“Yeah, it was (tough),” the Czech said.
“It was a tough one, for sure. She really didn’t give me anything for free.
“It was a tough first set. I’m glad that I was able to came back in the second. Anyway I didn’t play great at the end of the first.”
Coming into the event the world No. 4 admitted she was undercooked and in need of some game time. While, in hindsight, the three-setters against Katerina Siniakova and Jennifer Brady in the first two rounds probably did her some good, another match that went the distance was probably not in the ideal script for the 2013 Dubai champion.
But Hsieh is a tricky opponent and she proved it once again on Centre Court. The world No. 31 hits two-handed shots off both sides and was trying to beat her fourth top-10 seed of the week. That included wins over Angelique Kerber in the third round and Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals.

Bencic will try to upset Kvitova in Saturday's final at the Aviation Club (AFP) 


She started off in much the same vein as she had finished against Kerber and Pliskova, hurrying Kvitova around the court and making life as uncomfortable as possible under the hot Dubai sun.
“She’s very tricky,” Kvitova said about Hsieh, who grabbed five games in a row to take the opening set and go up 1-0 in the second.
“I didn’t really play the best at the end of the first set. But I calmed down afterwards a little bit,” Kvitova said.
“With Hsieh, I need to be a little bit patient. ... It’s not really that easy to make those winners against her.”
While she has 
not consistently displayed her A-game this week it should come as no shock that Kvitova has made today’s final. It was the second seed’s 17th victory of 2019 — a feat bettered by no one — and it will be her third final of the season and 35th of her career. She revealed that her presence in the showdown is thanks to her mental toughness and she admitted that after a long week she will have to draw on that a lot today.
“I think I’m pleased with my kind of mental focus after losing the first set, that I was more calmer when I came back and played from the beginning of the second set,” Kvitova said.
“I still kind of felt that I can do that somehow — it was something weird.
“I’m a bit tired right now, to be honest. I have a final, so I don’t know how I going to recover. Hopefully I have a few hours to do something with me.”
Of her sparkling form so far this year she said: “It’s a bit weird, to be honest. I didn’t really expect anything like that. Well, to be honest, I didn’t expect anything, which I already achieved this year. For me, everything is just bonus.
“As I mentioned, the tennis, it’s a bit like escape this week. This is unbelievable to be in the final when I’m escaping from something. Yeah, very interesting.”
In the other semifinal Bencic once again upset the odds to overcome world No. 6 Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-3, 7-6. The Swiss went into the clash as the underdog, but from the off the world No. 45 was aggressive and deservedly won.
In doing so she ended Svitolina’s 12-match winning streak in Dubai and ended the two-time defending champion’s hopes of becoming the first woman to win three Dubai titles in a row.