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Last Updated: Monday, 27 February 2006, 12:00 GMT
Bin Laden 'likes hugs not kisses'
Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden seemed to float across the floor, Thomas said
Australia's "Jihad Jack", convicted of receiving funds from al-Qaeda, says Osama Bin Laden does not like being kissed but is happy to be hugged.

Joseph "Jack" Thomas, who met Bin Laden three times in Afghanistan, discussed the al-Qaeda leader's preferences in an interview broadcast after his trial.

Thomas, 32, also said his own love of beer had made his conversion to Islam, which bans alcohol, a dilemma.

Thomas is still to be sentenced but his lawyers say he plans to appeal.

An interview with Thomas was shown on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Four Corners programme on Monday and other details have also been published in The Age.

"I never really thought I'd be a Muslim," he told ABC. "I'd say, 'Oh look, you know, I really love your religion but I really love my beer'."

I am a fifth-generation Australian - 105 years Irish-Australian. The offer to come home and be a sleeper agent where my family live is totally ridiculous
Joseph "Jack" Thomas

Thomas was found guilty of accepting $3,500 (2,000) and a plane ticket home from an al-Qaeda agent in Pakistan and possessing a false passport. He was cleared of intentionally providing resources for al-Qaeda.

The Melbourne court heard that Thomas had visited al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan shortly before the 11 September attacks on the United States.

The father of three could face up to 25 years in jail when he is sentenced by the Supreme Court in the next few days.

Thomas said he once shook hands with Bin Laden at an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden was "very polite and humble and shy. He didn't like too many kisses... he didn't mind being hugged but kisses he didn't like and he just seemed to float... across the floor," Thomas told ABC.

'Sleeper'

Thomas said an al-Qaeda operative, Khaled Bin Attash, told him Bin Laden wanted a "white boy" to carry out terrorist attacks in Australia.

Thomas said Bin Attash told him there was $10,000 for anyone attempting a terrorist strike there.

But Thomas said he would never have accepted becoming a "sleeper" agent in Australia.

While accepting that he might be "naive and an idealist", Thomas added he would never have wanted to hurt innocent people, The Age quoted him as saying.

As a child Thomas was rejected as a ballet dancer for being too stocky and joined a punk band, The Lobotomy Scars.

He converted to Islam and changed his name by deed poll to Jihad before heading to Afghanistan in March 2001.

He saw no combat and was arrested by Pakistani authorities in January 2003.


SEE ALSO:
'Jihad Jack' guilty in Melbourne
26 Feb 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia split on new terror laws
09 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia suspects 'refusing food'
11 Jan 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia arrests stir terror debate
08 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia terror bill introduced
03 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific


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