Jack Roche telephoned Australia’s intelligence agency in July 2000 to offer a tantalizing story: He had been to Afghanistan and ate lunch with Osama bin Laden. He had received training in explosives and plotted with Al Qaeda leaders to carry out a bombing in Australia. A Muslim convert, Roche was prepared to become an informant and provide information about Al Qaeda.
He tried six times. But no one was interested. “He was like a spy who tried to come in from the cold and found the door was locked,” his lawyer says. It wasn’t until 2 1/2 years later that authorities decided to take Roche seriously and arrested him on terrorism charges. Last week he was sentenced to nine years in prison for conspiring with Al Qaeda leaders to blow up an Israeli Embassy. Roche’s case is a tale of intelligence failures.