SYDNEY — The prodigal son has returned from exile in Cuba. After five years of bitter controversy, David Hicks, Australia’s gift to world terrorism, is back in hometown Adelaide, South Australia, safely locked away but still dividing a nation’s conscience.

By next New Year’s Day he will be released from prison, free to tell the world how he became a trusted Islamic jihad fighter in Afghanistan, working with al-Qaida terrorists when the World Trade Center disaster on Sept. 11, 2001, convulsed and awoke Western democracies.

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