the jack roche taped interview - part 1

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    I've had to break the interview up into parts - courtesy of the site's "cyber gremlin".



    The Weekend Australian
    Edition 1 - All-round CountrySAT 23 NOV 2002, Page 019
    THE INSIDER
    By COLLEEN EGAN


    WHEN Jack Roche agreed to a series of interviews with The Australian's Colleen Egan, he did so on one proviso: that the information not be attributed to him unless he was arrested. He did not want to ``just disappear'' without someone knowing his story if ``the boys from ASIO'' came for him. That pessimistic assessment of his future was vindicated on Monday night when police arrived at the tiny rented South Perth flat Roche, 49, shares with his Indonesian-born wife. Roche, who holds British and Australian citizenship and converted to Islam 13 years ago, was charged with conspiracy to bomb Israeli missions in Canberra and Sydney. He says he will plead not guilty and apply for bail when he appears in court next week. Police allege Roche had associations with al-Qa'ida and regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah, which is believed responsible for the October 12 Bali bombing.
    In three interviews, Roche unravelled the remarkable story of how a white Australian became the target of extremist headhunters involved in the world's deadliest terrorist network. The conversations stretched more than six hours, with the short, bearded Roche slowly revealing his story in a soft English accent, sprinkled with Muslim words in a practised Indonesian tongue. He detailed his meetings with notorious al-Qa'ida agent Hambali, Perth-based twin brothers and alleged JI members Abdur Rahman Ayub and Abdul Rahim Ayub, and the ``very nice man'' he dined with in Afghanistan -- Osama bin Laden. The following is an edited version of the third interview, conducted at Roche's home on November 13, five days before he was arrested.

    ROCHE is upset over an ABC television interview in which an academic claimed Hambali, the most wanted terrorist in South-East Asia, had visited Australia.
    Roche: To actually come out and say it's a fact Hambali has been to Australia ... you have to back it up with proof. You can't just say it.
    Egan: And how would you know if he'd been here or not?
    A: I mean, well...
    Q: You think you would have heard?
    A: Well, don't quote me as ... um, just say sources, but I've actually met Hambali in Malaysia so I know for a fact he hasn't been here, having spoken to him.
    Q: So when did you meet him?
    A: I know for a fact he hasn't been here, so people ... the people here in Australia who are supposedly Jemaah Islamiah ... no one's ever mentioned to me that he's been here and they would have known too, so...
    Q: Did you meet him through [Abu Bakar] Bashir?
    A: I went to the village in Malaysia where they were living at the time. They were next-door neighbours.
    Q: Where was that?
    A: This was at Banting. But as I say, just say ``sources'' -- don't mention this came from me, an Australian or something like that, because I don't think the authorities would be too, aaah, I mean, I've had quite a few interviews with them and I don't think they'd be very pleased. I wonder if they're listening in now.
    Q: So am I.
    A: But I mean it's wrong just to say it as fact. You have to prove things, you can't just say things willy-nilly. Everybody jumps on it, of course.
    Q: Well, everybody jumps on it because they think Hambali is the lead terrorist in the region.
    A: He does have a fascination with bombs, I know that.
    Q: Do you think he is what they say he is?
    A: Well I think he's very dedicated to what he believes in, definitely. To the point where I certainly wouldn't put it past him to do something like that. But I don't know if he had anything to do with what happened in Bali or not. Possibly.
    Q: When we talked before, you said you couldn't believe Bashir would have anything to do with the bombings.
    A: No, not really. I just don't believe he would give the go-ahead for this, especially the bombing in Bali.
    Q: Why particularly that?
    A: Because of his focus on trying to educate Muslims in Indonesia about Islam. This certainly hasn't helped him, it's resulted in him being arrested. So it doesn't make any sense. He doesn't gain anything out of being arrested. He's not after notoriety, he never has been.
    Q: So did you have a contact? The Perth group, would that be it?
    A: Well our leader, I mean the leader in Australia, was Abdul Rahim Ayub, he was the one responsible for whatever took place here.
    Q: The one with the twin brother?
    A: Yes.
    Q: Has he come back [from Indonesia] yet?
    A: No, no, he still hasn't come back. I don't think he'll be coming back.
    Q: Do you think he had anything to do with it? Because he left Australia before the bombing.
    A: No, nothing to do with Bali.
    (The brothers, who both lived in Perth at one time, are believed to be in Indonesia.)
    *
 
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