Terror Connection Down Under
Al Qaeda down
under? Australia's tiny Jewish community a target?
Copyright © The Jewish Week
June 18, 2004
BY LERON KORNREICH
around Australia are coming to grips with news that their
community was marked as potential targets by al-Qaeda as early
as 2000, well before the 9-11 attacks.
Jack Roche, a British-born convert to Islam
and admitted al-Qaeda operative, was sentenced two weeks ago
to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring
to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Canberra.
During the trial in Perth, prosecutors also
revealed that Melbourne mining magnate Rabbi Joseph Gutnick,
a major benefactor of Chabad Lubabvitch, was considered a
I found it initially hard to believe,
said Gillian Polack, a Canberra resident and president of
the local National Council of Jewish Women. Except for
Joseph Gutnick, the Australian Jewish community is such a
small, small player.
Roche, the first person to be tried and convicted
in Australia under new anti-terror laws enacted after 9-11,
insisted his role was limited to videotaping the Israeli Embassy.
Jeremy Jones, president of the Executive Council
of Australian Jewry, said he was not surprised to hear of
the plot because we know the Australian Jewish community
is in the same position as virtually any Jewish community
in the world.
Jones recalled the 1982 bombings of the Israeli
Consulate offices in Sydney and the Hakoah Club, a predominantly
Jewish social club.
We are not virgin territory for anti-Jewish
or anti-Israel attacks, he said.
Security is tight around Jewish institutions,
exceeding those in some American cities. Guards patrol entrances
to synagogues in Melbourne and Sydney every Shabbat, questioning
people before allowing them to enter.
We have maximum security at all times,
but more so since 2000, said Malvina Malinek, an active
member of Melbournes tightly knit Jewish community.
She added: There was never any shortage
of anti-Semitism and anti-Semites in Australia. But
Malinek has sensed a definite rise since the outbreak of the