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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK
Australian 'trained by al-Qaeda'
John Roche
Mr Roche's lawyer has insisted his client is innocent
A British-born Muslim convert accused of plotting to bomb diplomatic missions in Australia was recruited and trained by al-Qaeda, a court has been told.

Prosecutors told the jury that Jack Roche, 50, travelled to Afghanistan to meet with Osama Bin Laden and his deputies in March 2000.

He was instructed to form a terror cell to blow up Israel's consulate in Sydney and its embassy in Canberra.

Mr Roche, who is an Australian citizen, denies the charges.

Mr Roche's lawyer has insisted his client is innocent and rejects violence.

Mr Roche faces a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison if convicted.

Explosives training

Prosecutor Ron Davies told the court in Perth that Mr Roche had several meetings in Afghanistan with senior al-Qaeda figures, including Osama Bin Laden.

It was during his meeting with the al-Qaeda leader that the plan to bomb Israeli targets was forged, Mr Davies said.

The plan was to blow up the embassy with a truck bomb.

Mr Roche then underwent 10 days of explosives training at an al-Qaeda camp 15km (9 miles) from Kandahar.

On his return to Australia, he allegedly began video surveillance of the Israeli embassy in Canberra and the Israeli consulate in Sydney.

He also began recruiting people to take part in the plot, and made enquiries about explosives, the court heard.

He said he had no qualms about the Israeli people around the embassy... in his words, not mine, they were fair game
Prosecutor Ron Davies

Mr Davies quoted comments made by Mr Roche in a newspaper interview before his arrest.

"He said he had no qualms about the Israeli people around the embassy... in his words, not mine, they were fair game," he said.

Raids on Mr Roche's house in Perth allegedly recovered video recordings, still photographs and notes made during the surveillance.

Mr Roche was arrested in November 2002 during raids by Australian police that targeted suspected sympathisers of the radical Islamic group, Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

The English-born suspect converted to Islam more than a decade ago and has been living in Perth in Western Australia for several years.

The Australian authorities believe he is a member of JI, a militant group based in South East Asia with links to al-Qaeda.

The Muslim convert told an Australian radio station that he had attended lectures given by the alleged spiritual leader of JI, Abu Bakar Ba'asyir.

He said the talks only covered religious topics and he has denied having any association with terrorist organisations.

The trial, which is due to take a month, continues.


SEE ALSO:
Australian denies bomb plot
12 Feb 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Australian denies anti-Israeli plot
19 Nov 02  |  Asia-Pacific


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