Al-Qaeda leaders talked about destroying American and Israeli airlines flying to Australia a year before the September 11 attacks in the United States, a court heard yesterday.
The strikes were part of a plot outlined in early 2000 in the Pakistan city of Karachi by al-Qaeda’s second in command, Mukhtar, in talks with alleged al-Qaeda conspirator Jack Roche.
Roche, 50, a British-born Islamic convert, has denied plotting with senior al-Qaeda officials to bomb the Israeli embassy in Canberra, with intent do endanger lives.
On day six of his trial in the Perth District Court, the jury was played part of a nine-hour videotape of an interview with Roche conducted by two Australian Federal Police agents in November 2002.
Roche says in the interview that he and Mukhtar also talked about the assassination of Americans and Israelis in Australia and how Melbourne Jewish leader Joe Gutnick would be a possible target.
“Mukhtar was thinking about any airlines that regularly came to Australia from either the US or Israel,” Roche says in the recording. “But he mainly was interested in the American airlines that flew into Australia and people who could be targeted.”