This article belongs to Australia - Land of the Free? column.

'By the way,' wrote David Hicks in a letter home to his parents in May 2001, 'I have met Osama bin Laden 20 times now, lovely brother, everything for the cause of Islam. The only reason the west calls him the most wanted Muslim is because he's got the money to take action.'


This evidence came to light recently when the Australian Federal Police applied to the Federal Magistrate's court for Control Order to be applied on David Hicks when he is released from Yatala Labour Prison on December 29th 2007.


Other evidence presented to the court included - Hicks admitted taking part in four al-Qaida training camps between January 2001 and August 2001 - a month before the terrorist attacks on the United States. In addition he undertook "substantial training" in basic arms and combat training, guerrilla warfare and advanced marksmanship. He systematically sought out training the court was told.


The court heard that Hicks, a former Muslim, wrote, "Christians and Jews are fighting Muslims in Eritrea and the same in Nigeria; all because non-believers work together to destroy Islam. Myself as a practising Muslim with military experience can go to help in any of these conflicts. So as a Muslim (young and fit) my and (our) responsibility is to protect my brothers for the sake of Islam, to protect them from aggressive non-believers and not let them destroy Islam. So please understand that if you are in a position to help (as I am) then of course I and others will help each other for the sake of Allah, and Allah is happy with those who take this action."


The Magistrate agreed to the order saying the court was satisfied that ' On the balance of probabilities' the order would "substantially assist" in preventing a terrorist act and that Hicks had received training from a terrorist organisation.


The Control Order means that Hicks cannot leave Australia without permission, must abide by a curfew, report to Police three times a week and provide his fingerprints to the authorities. He is also banned from possessing weapons or explosives likely to facilitate a terrorist act.


In defence of his client, Hick's lawyer - David McLeod said that Hicks would abide by all the conditions of the order. 'The letters Hicks wrote while in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2002 did not represent his client's present views. The David Hicks in the letters is not the David Hicks I have met.'


Is David Hicks a terrorist just waiting to get out of jail and wreak havoc on his native country or is he a young man easily led into saying the above as he sort adventure? We will soon know, but I'm not quaking in my boots at the thought of him being released into the community where I live.