Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden bankrolled the bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta in retaliation for Australia sending troops to Iraq, an alleged terrorist has reportedly told police.
A truck bomb killed 10 people when it blew up at the fortified gates of the embassy on 9 September 2004 during Australia's election campaign. None of the victims were Australians.
A newspaper and Australia's national broadcaster reported on Monday a transcript of Indonesian police interviews with the alleged plot leader Rois, who also goes by the name of Iwan Dharmawan, after he was arrested in November.
Rois told police that according to Malaysian bomb maker Azahari bin Husin, bin Laden had used a courier to send A$10,000 ($7,558) to pay for the bombing, The Australian newspaper reported.
"According to Dr Azahari's explanation to me at the time, the funds came from Osama bin Laden, and they were sent by a courier," Rois, a 30-year-old trader from West Java, was quoted as saying.
Asia's most wanted
Azahari and another Malaysian, Noordin Mohammed Top, are among the most wanted men in Asia, accused of leading roles in several attacks, including the Bali bombing in 2002 which killed 202 people.
"According to Dr Azahari's explanation to me at the time, the funds came from Osama bin Laden"
Rois, suspect in Australian embassy blast in Jakarta
Rois said the embassy was targeted because of Australian involvement in the Iraq war and continuing presence there.
"The purpose in blowing up the embassy was because the Australian government is one of the American allies that gives most support to the American policy of slaughtering Muslims in Iraq," Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported, citing interview transcripts.
"And our goal is for Australia to discontinue pressuring Muslims, especially in Iraq," Rois reportedly said.
Supporting US action
Canberra has long defended its decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq and maintains there is no evidence to support the opposition Labour Party's claims that Australia's role increased the likelihood of Australia being targeted for attacks.
Bin Laden is reported to have
paid A$10,000 for the attack
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said al-Qaida had named Australia as a target before the government became involved in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said he was not surprised by the reports of bin Laden's involvement because of the strong links between al-Qaida and its Southeast Asian offshoot Jemaah Islamiyah.
"To assume if we had not been involved in Iraq, if we hadn't been involved in Afghanistan, that these [attacks] wouldn't be happening, I think would be a very unsafe assumption," Ruddock told ABC radio.
"The claims that these tragic events are related to our efforts to contain terrorism around the world need of course to be significantly discounted," he added.
Rois is standing trial in the South Jakarta District Court on terrorism charges.