Ruddock admits ASIO missed terror calls

The Federal Attorney General has confirmed Australia’s top spy agency ignored phone calls from Jack Roche who has become the country’s first convicted terrorist.

Roche told a Perth court he tried to warn ASIO about his plan to blow up the Israeli embassy in Canberra by telephoning the organisation in July and August 2000.

Philip Ruddock says ASIO admitted the mistake to the then Attorney General Daryl Williams at the time and gave the government an explanation.

Mr Ruddock says ASIO’S procedures were changed to make sure such contacts are not ignored again.

“And we’ve also legislated to provide that all telephone calls now to ASIO on its public line will be recorded.

“And that, I think, provides greater certainty in terms of the future in that if allegations are made that calls were addressed to ASIO, there is a situation where it can be checked.”

Fifty-year-old Roche was found guilty of plotting with Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah on Friday.

The Labor Party’s homeland security spokesman Robert McClelland says it is possible Roche’s calls could have prevented the Bali bombing in October 2002.

“It means we may well have missed an opportunity to find out about the activities of Jemmah Islamiah both in Indonesia and Australia.

“Now, of course the Bali bombings occurred 18 months later.

“In hindsight it’s difficult to say that it could have prevented that occurring. But nevertheless we need to know whether that was a missed opportunity to find out more about the activities of J I.”

But Mr Ruddock says this is not true.

“The fact is, that nothing that Roche had said had any relevance to Bali.

“There is no suggestion that he knew what was happening there, or any information that would have been provided by him would have given us a warning in relation to that.”

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