Australia's 'Jihad Jack' testifies in French synagogue bomb trial

26th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Christian Ganczarski, a German convert to Islam, stands accused of planning a 2002 suicide bombing of a Tunisian synagogue that killed 21 people.

Paris -- An Australian convicted of plotting attacks with Al-Qaeda told a Paris court Friday that a German accused of blowing up a synagogue had been close to Osama bin Laden.

Jack Roche, who pleaded guilty in 2004 to planning with Al-Qaeda to attack Israel's embassy in Canberra and is now free on parole, testified by video link from the Australian city of Perth.

Christian Ganczarski, a German convert to Islam, stands accused of planning a 2002 suicide bombing of a Tunisian synagogue that killed 21 people.

He is on trial in Paris, along with an alleged Tunisian accomplice and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed mastermind of Al-Qaeda's attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.

Roche told the court that Ganczarski was directly linked to Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda's Saudi-born leader, and used the pseudonym "Abu Mohammed".

"He obviously had close ties with bin Laden, because he sat next to him and gave him the note Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had given me for him," Roche, a British-born convert to Islam, told the court.

Roche, dubbed "Jihad Jack" by the Australian media, confessed during his own 2004 trial to travelling to Afghanistan, where he met Bin Laden and received explosives training with the Islamist extremist group.

"He had links too with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," said Roche. "I met him in his house in Karachi. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed explained to me that Abu Mohamed was going to escort me to Afghanistan."

Khalid Seikh Mohammed formerly maintained a hideout in the Pakistani port city of Karachi with links to Al-Qaeda's bases near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

"Near Kandahar, one of the sons of bin Laden came to pick us up at a Taliban outpost," Roche told the court.

"I spent a few days with him. I think he was a go-between between Europe and Afghanistan, and he had computer and radio skills," he said.

Ganczarski pleaded innocent when he and Sheikh Mohammed went on trial earlier this month for plotting the synagogue bombing, which killed 14 German tourists, five Tunisians and two French nationals.

Sheikh Mohammed is in the US military's Guantanamo Bay prison and will not attend the French hearings, but Ganczarski and his alleged accomplice Nizar Nawar were in court.

French prosecutors have charged the trio with "complicity in attempted murder in relation to a terrorist enterprise" and they face a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail if convicted of the April 11, 2002 attack.

The Paris trial is scheduled to end on February 6.

AFP/Expatica

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