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Friday, May 28, 2004

"Whoah -- that's like the bloke on the telly!"

"He (Osama) is a very nice man, but I only
met him for a short time ... just outside Kandahar,"
Roche testified. "I mean his people are very nice ...
it sounds a strange thing to say."

I'm posting this article in its entirety because it describes a phenomenon that should cause us great concern. Beyond the plot itself, it is the successful recruitment of individuals in the free world to make war on their own, that is so chilling.
CNN: PERTH, Australia -- British-born terror suspect Jack Roche has pleaded guilty to an al Qaeda-linked plot to blow up the Israeli embassy in Canberra, the Australian capital.

Roche, an Australian citizen, initially pleaded innocent at the start of his trial in the Western Australian city of Perth, but on Friday changed his plea to guilty.

The sudden change in plea ended the trial, with sentencing scheduled for Tuesday.

Roche, 50, has admitted to meeting al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, during a trip to Afghanistan in 2000 when he received training in terrorist techniques.

Prosecutors accused him of joining a plot by members of al Qaeda's arm in Southeast Asia, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), to bomb the Israeli embassy.

Roche, who was born in Hull, northern England, confessed his involvement in the plot during the trial but said he had a change of heart about carrying it out.

While in Afghanistan, Roche was ordered to set up a terror cell in Australia and to target Israeli interests in the country, he said.

But after returning to Australia, Roche said he realized he was out of his depth when he looked up the FBI's Most Wanted List and saw on the Web site at least five people he had met in Afghanistan.

"I was shocked, I was taken aback," Roche told the court on Thursday. "I thought: This is too much. This is really deep."

However, he admitted carrying out surveillance of possible Australian targets for attack, including the embassy in Canberra, and that he tried unsuccessfully to recruit militants to carry out attacks in Australia.

Roche said he had to be seen doing his task, in case someone from al Qaeda or JI were watching.

"I suspected that they would kill me, whether it was someone from al Qaeda or Jemmah Islamiyah," he told the court.

Roche admitted to being a member of JI and said he worked to create problems within the group in an effort to have his mission canceled.

He said that eventually Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir called him and ordered him to scupper the plans. Roche named Ba'asyir as the head of JI.

Ba'asyir is in Indonesian custody and is suspected of terror links. However, the cleric denies heading the terror group and has said that JI doesn't even exist.

Roche said he had also met with suspected Bali bombing mastermind Hambali, as well al Qaeda leaders bin Laden, Abu Hafs and Mukhtar during his trips to Malaysia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"He (Osama) is a very nice man, but I only met him for a short time ... just outside Kandahar," Roche testified. "I mean his people are very nice ... it sounds a strange thing to say.

"I sat down for a meal and I had just started eating, and I looked across and I said whoah -- that's like the bloke on the telly (television)."