DAVID HARDAKER: To the case of the brothers Bilal and Maher Khazal, who've been convicted in absentia by a military court in Lebanon for allegedly supporting terrorism.
Without an extradition request from Lebanon, the Australian Government appears powerless to take action against the brothers and while the Khazals have mounted a strong defence against their conviction, some commentators believe that it's open to the US Government to play a role in the case of Bilal Khazal, by having him listed as a "specially designated terrorist".
Michael Vincent reports.
MICHAEL VINCENT: Osama bin Laden and all of his deputies are listed as "specially designated terrorists", and Jonathan Schanzer from the conservative Washington Institute for near east policy believes Sydney man Bilal Khazal should be listed next.
JONATHAN SCHANZER: Basically it gives the United States Government carte blanche to begin to look into the finances of individuals, to look into their network, to look into really any sort of ties that they might have to al-Qaeda in order to take action against them. In other words, you know, if they wanted to launch a more significant investigation into him and into his cohorts, this would essentially allow US law enforcement to do so.
MICHAEL VINCENT: The case in Lebanon against Khazal centred on financial transfers to a man which the military court said was connected with the terrorist group Asbat al-Ansar, but Khazal's Australian lawyers say the money was intended for charity, and have described the process as a kangaroo court.
However, Jonathan Schanzer believes anyone connected to Asbat al-Ansar should be of serious concern.
JONATHAN SCHANZER: I believe that the affiliate groups of al-Qaeda, such as Asbat al-Ansar, should be a major priority for the United States because these groups are really the pools from which al-Qaeda will get its next generation of fighters, however right now Washington, I believe, is more concerned with what's happening in Afghanistan, what's happening in Iraq.
I think that if you wanted to see action on it, if you wanted to see movement, you would probably have to see Kenber (phonetic) and make a direct appeal to Washington to begin to look into Khazal and some of the other Australians that have been involved in this Lebanese terrorist organisation.
MICHAEL VINCENT: Do you think it's enough to have Bilal Khazal listed as a specially designated terrorist on the basis of this military tribunal's finding in Lebanon?
JONATHAN SCHANZER: Well, I think that it's a good place to start. I think you can also look at, there are also some documents out there that link Bilal Khazal to the Madrid cell, the terrorist cell that was uncovered last year in Spain. In other words, Khazal seems to have many, many links to terrorist organisations and terrorist activities. I think, you know, if you start to put it together, which is what I did in my policy piece, it becomes very, very clear that this is a man that, at least on the surface, appears to have significant ties to al-Qaeda, and that should be of major concern to the international community.
MICHAEL VINCENT: But Bilal Khazal's Australian lawyer, Chris Murphy, has attacked the proposal for his client to be listed.
CHRIS MURPHY: This man has committed, or these men have committed no crimes in Australia, they've been interviewed 23 times by ASIO. We have abundant laws in place to pursue any criminal sanctions that may be available or civil. What I find absolutely disgusting is that John Howard says, well look, he hasn't done anything wrong here, let's go somewhere else where they make a finding that our courts can't make. This is very, very much a desertion of what we hold, what we hold fair, and what we value as part of our civil set-up.
DAVID HARDAKER: Bilal Khazal's lawyer, Chris Murphy, ending that report from Michael Vincent.