Sheik yer’mami reported:Â Australia: “I ain’t no misunderstander” sez terrorist grandma
Thanks to Mullah
THE Mudgee girl who became a surfie chick as a teen only to now be described by security agencies as the “matriarch” of radical Islam has spoken for the first time of her “nightmare” living under constant surveillance, branded a threat to national security and barred from travelling abroad.
Sydney mother Rabiah Hutchinson had her passport cancelled after returning from Iran in 2003, because of her links with al-Qa’ida and Indonesian militant group Jemaah Islamiah.
The ASIO assessment says Ms Hutchinson “has directly supported extremist activities” and, if allowed to travel, is “likely to engage in conduct that might prejudice the security of Australia or a foreign country”.
Ms Hutchinson recently applied for a new passport to visit her daughters in Afghanistan, one of whom has a baby she has not yet seen. She said she was told that her application would be considered only if she agreed to meet officers from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, which she has declined to do, having met them numerous times in the past.
“They’ve said this to me so many times,” she said. “How many times do I have to meet them? There’s nothing for me to tell them. I’ve told them everything.”
Ms Hutchinson has been kept under surveillance by ASIO, but has never been charged or accused of any offence, or interviewed by the Australian Federal Police. She claims her confinement in Australia is tantamount to house arrest.
“They don’t need to charge me with anything,” she said. “They don’t need to put me in jail. They’ve taken away everything from me that means anything to me. I have been separated from my children and my grandchildren, from my people, my country. For what? What crime have I committed? What’s the justification for what’s happened to me?”
Ms Hutchinson has spoken frankly for the first time about her 20 years on the frontlines of the global jihad movement, in a new book, The Mother of Mohammed.
It began when she joined a student Islamic group involved in the resistance against then Indonesian president Suharto in the 1990s.
Through the student movement, she met cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who later co-founded JI. She was employed as an English teacher at Bashir’s Ngruki Islamic boarding school and became a close friend of his family.
Bashir’s wife Ecun remembers Ms Hutchinson well. “She was really enthusiastic, very highly motivated and energetic,” she said. “And she was very direct. Rabiah will say anything. If she likes something, she says so. If she doesn’t like it, she says so as well.”
Ms Hutchinson became a mentor to younger women in the Islamist movement and a confidante of senior leaders such as Bashir’s lieutenant Fihiruddin, also known as Abu Jibril. His brother, Irfan Awwas recalled: “Rabiah was very famous among young Muslims because she was very motivated.”
In 1990, after divorcing her third husband, Indonesian-born Abdul Rahim Ayub, Ms Hutchinson travelled to northwest Pakistan with her six children to “join the jihad”.
She spent four years working in a mujaheddin hospital and orphanage run by Afghan warlord Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, whose patron and financier was Osama bin Laden.
Ms Hutchinson’s family met bin Laden, who bought them an airconditioner to cool their mud-brick home. She later received an offer of marriage from an anonymous Saudi suitor, rumoured to be bin Laden.
In 2000, Ms Hutchinson and her family travelled to Afghanistan, where the Taliban was in power. After volunteering her services as a health worker, she says she was advised by bin Laden to settle in Kabul, where she ran a medical clinic and worked on health and humanitarian projects.
Ms Hutchinson married a member of al-Qa’ida’s governing shura (council), Mustafa Hamid, known as Abu Walid al-Masri, and was asked by bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to set up a new women’s hospital in Kandahar. One of her closest friends was Zawahiri’s wife, who was later killed in the US bombing of Afghanistan.
Ms Hutchinson was living in Kandahar when the September 11 attacks took place. When the US struck back in retaliation, she and her children were evacuated with other al-Qa’ida families and spent three months on the run. They eventually crossed the border into Iran, where they were detained under house arrest by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. They were finally repatriated in 2003 to Australia, where Ms Hutchinson’s passport was frozen.
Since then ASIO has maintained its assessment that there is “a strong likelihood” that further travel by her would involve “participation in, or support and preparation for, acts of politically motivated violence”. Ms Hutchinson denied she supported terrorism or had ever been involved in politically motivated violence, and no evidence to support this assertion has been produced.
“How would you like it if the Government said to you, ‘right, we don’t like the way you think’,” Ms Hutchinson said. “Then they picked you up, separated you from your children, forced you to live somewhere you don’t want to live for the rest of your life until you die – just because they don’t like the way you think and your beliefs. And you have no way of refuting it.”
Ms Hutchinson said if she were free to travel she would return to Afghanistan. “This is not reality to me; it’s not real,” she said. “This is just a nightmare that I hope I’m going to wake up from one day and find it’s not true.”