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Abu Bakar Bashir on Lateline

  1. RobBlack

    841 Posts.

    Australian Broadcasting Corporation
    Late night news & current affairs

    LOCATION: abc.net.au > Lateline > Archives
    URL: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/s703351.htm

    Broadcast: 16/10/2002
    Aust probe JI link to Bali blast
    In the wake of the devastating bomb blast, Australian authorities are investigating possible links between the alleged terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah and groups inside Australia.

    Compere: Tony Jones
    Reporter: Margot O'Neill

    In the wake of the devastating bomb blast, Australian authorities are investigating possible links between the alleged terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah or JI, and groups inside Australia.

    Lateline has been told that some Australian security experts believe JI has a significant presence in Australia, although the nature of that presence remains unclear.

    Margot O'Neill has the story.

    MARGOT O'NEILL: The focus for many security experts now is whether terrorist cells exist inside Australia and one of their most pressing questions is whether Abu Bakar Bashir established Australian links to Jemaah Islamiyah when he visited here at least three times in the late '90s.

    The radical cleric has repeatedly denied that JI exists or that he has any terrorist links.

    Today in Jakarta he went to court to sue Time magazine for libel after it published claims that he was a terrorist.

    ABU BAKAR BASHIR, ISLAMIC CLERIC (TRANSLATION): Jemaah Islamiyah doesn't exist.

    They made up Jemaah Islamiyah in South-East Asia so that Muslims find themselves arrested when they go there.

    It doesn't exist. It's an invention.

    MARGOT O'NEILL: The Australian Government has now confirmed that Abu Bakar Bashir last visited Australia in 1998.

    His only public mark is recorded on this Australian-based website for a fundamentalist Islamic magazine called Nida'ul Islam.

    The magazine published two articles by Abu Bakar Bashir in 1996 and 1998 about Indonesia.

    They included calls for Muslims to be prepared to die while trying to achieve an Islamic state.

    Abu Bakar warned non-Muslims, "You have no right to block our way!"

    Nida'ul Islam is a radical publication. It's also carried a sympathetic interview with Osama bin Laden.

    More ominously, Lateline was told last year by a senior security source that some members of the group behind Nida'ul Islam were linked to weapons and explosives training on this NSW farm.

    But the group released a videotape which showed them running a holiday camp for children.

    At the time, a spokesman denied they supported terrorism or raised money for terrorist groups.

    MAN: Those suggestions are inconclusive. They are still being researched. There is no evidence against us at this stage. There will not be any evidence in the future, and that is what our view is.

    MARGOT O'NEILL: Australian officials emphasise they've found no evidence of an operational terrorist cell in Australia or of any specific threat to Australian targets.

    But while they tracked five Australians to Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, they've since lost track of two of them.

    New video footage released today purports to show JI training camps in Indonesia, which also raises questions about whether other Australians may have received terrorist training closer to home.

    Last week, Al Qaeda expert Rohan Gunaratna said he was told by Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters that an Al Qaeda terrorist team was to be sent to Australia.

    ROHAN GUNARATNA, AUTHOR: A number of Al Qaeda members were tasked to enter Australia for the purpose of destroying targets inside Australia.

    The Australian Government should do whatever is possible to detect those Al Qaeda members who've been tasked to enter Australia.

    MARGOT O'NEILL: Rohan Gunaratna claims that, until the Bali bombings, the Federal Government underestimated the threat from regional terrorists.

    Margot O'Neill, Lateline.


    Watch the video


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