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WAR ON TERROR: THREAT TO USA: OZ AL-QAEDA FIGHTER IS CAPTURED.

Byline: BELINDA GOLDSMITH

AN Australian who trained with al-Qaeda has been captured by the Northern Alliance, it was revealed yesterday.

David Hicks, 26, is an Islamic mercenary who had fought in Kosovo before moving to Afghanistan last year.

Australian Attorney General Daryl Williams said he was captured on Sunday as Northern Alliance fighters cornered Osama bin Laden's troops.

Hicks' father, Terry, said he knew his son was fighting with al-Qaeda. Hicks, believed to have two children in Adelaide, rang him with the news 17 days after the September 11 attacks.

"That's when I picked myself up from the floor," said Mr Hicks. "He's got a bit of hot blood running through his veins. We call him Indiana Jones. That's his nickname.

"I've always said he should have been born a few centuries ago with a sword in his hand."

Hicks has no criminal record and was not known to Australian security agencies. He has trained with other Islamic militants.

He joined the Kosovo Liberation Army in mid-1999 before moving to Pakistan later that year.

There, he trained with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic group fighting to free Muslim Kashmir from India. Last year, Hicks went to Afghanistan where he trained with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network.

After his capture, Hicks was handed over to US forces by the Northern Alliance.

Yesterday, he was being held and questioned at a Marine base at an airstrip south of Kandahar.

Australia is talking with other coalition countries, including the US, about Hicks' future.

It is unclear which - if any - laws apply to him or if the Northern Alliance will hand him over to US authorities. Christine Harvey, deputy secretary general of the Law Council of Australia, said: "This man is totally in limbo land because there's no extradition treaty, no applicable law."

Kevin Rudd, who heads the Australia's opposition Labor Party committee on foreign security, who is currently visiting Pakistan, said Australian law forbade its citizens "from engaging in or training for hostile activities in foreign countries".

He said: "Any person involved in terrorist activity should be dealt with the full force of the law."

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MERCENARY: Aus=sie Hicks fires rocket launcher for bin Laden
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 13, 2001
Words:364
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