Former surfie chick turned jihad groupie Rabiah Hutchinson is complaining about the nightmare of living under ‘constant surveillance.’ After all, she is just a 55 year old grandmother with diabetes and arthritis. So why is anyone picking on her?
To start with, she looks like something out of a teen slasher flick.
Rabiah has the right to wear whatever she likes. But then the people who see her have the right to be alarmed and suspicious. Or annoyed when she terrifies their children in the aisles at Woolworths.
But her appearance is not why she is of interest to Australian security forces.
After backpacking in to Bali in the 1980s, Hutchinson married a muslim and converted to Islam. Through some student friends she met Abu Bakar Bashir, eventually becoming a close friend.
Bashir is regarded as the ‘godfather’ of terrorist organisation Jemaah Islamiah. JI was behind the Bali bombings, and Bashir was found guilty of conspiracy in relation to those bombings in an Indonesian court in 2005.
Well, maybe she is just unlucky in her choice of friends. And by the time of the Bali bombings, Hutchinson was no longer living in Indonesia.
In 1984, she married engineering student Abdul Rahim Ayub in a ceremony at Bashir’s school. They returned to Australia, where Ayub was appointed the leader of JI’s Australian branch, Mantiqi 4.
Maybe she was just unlucky in her choice of husbands as well. Ayub was her third.
But in 1990 she divorced him and took her six children to join jihadi forces in Pakistan. There she met Osama bin Laden, and eventually travelled to Afghanistan.
She married a member of al-Qaeda’s governing council, Mustafa Hamid. She got know to bin Laden’s deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, and his wife became one of her closest friends.
al-Zawahiri is regarded as one of the most dangerous terrorists in the world, the ‘brains’ of Al Qaeda, and a consistent planner and promoter of violence and suicide bombings.
His latest message of peace and goodwill, released only a few days ago, can be found on the NEFA Foundation website.
After the 9/11 attacks and subsequent US attacks on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Hutchinson fled to Iran, where she was detained before being returned to Australia.
In 2006 her two sons Abdullah Mustafa and Mohamed Ilyas were arrested in Yemen and accused of being part of an Al Qaeda cell smuggling weapons to Somalia. They were eventually released wihout charge, but were deported to Lebanon. They were forced to leave Lebanon after authorities there refused to renew their visas.
But according to Rabiah, this is all just bad luck, and she is just a cuddly old grandma.
ASIO (the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) thinks differently.
According to the article in The Australian linked above, ASIO believes 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”.
Rabiah Hutchinson’s life, and her movement in and around Australia are not restricted in any way. She has full rights of citizenship, except a passport.
But I for one am glad someone is keeping an eye on her.