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Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 08:03 GMT
'Terror plot to hit Sydney Olympics'
The opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics
Details of the proposed attack were not given
Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiah planned to attack the 2000 Olympics in Sydney but decided against it, South-East Asian intelligence officials are reported as saying.

The group selected and trained a team for an attack, the Singapore Straits Times said on Tuesday, quoting unnamed officials.

Hambali
Hambali: Wanted over a string of bombings
But the plan, by JI's alleged operations chief, Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, was rejected by the group's Australian leader for unknown reasons, the newspaper said.

JI has been named by some governments as the prime suspect in October's Bali nightclub bombings that killed nearly 200 people.

The Indonesian Government has linked the group to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

The nature of the planned attack in Sydney was not known, the Straits Times said.

The games were held from September to October 2000.

Australian cells

The team preparing the attack allegedly included an Indonesian national who worked as a taxi-driver in Sydney and an Australian JI member, sources told the newspaper.

JI set up cells in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney in 1996, the report said.

"Certainly JI was more rooted in the country than the Australian authorities were aware of, or wished to acknowledge," the intelligence sources were quoted as saying.

The newspaper report comes two days after Prime Minister John Howard sparked criticism from Asian neighbours by saying Australia should have the right to launch pre-emptive military strikes against "terrorists" in other countries.

Following the Bali bombing, which killed about 90 Australians, Australia named JI as a terrorist organisation, allowing the government to use tough anti-terror legislation against suspected members.

In November, the Australian Government said JI's alleged spiritual leader, the Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, had visited Australia 11 times during the 1990s to try to spread the group's influence.

Mr Ba'asyir is being detained in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in connection with a series of church bombings in December 2000.

The man known as Hambali, who has been named as a key suspect in a string of bombings in South-East Asia, remains at large.

Nearly two weeks ago, the Australian Government issued a security warning that there was a credible threat of an unspecified attack in Australia.


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01 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
29 Nov 02 | Asia-Pacific
31 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
21 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
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