I can't be an al-Qaida spy - I'm a 54 year old granny!
I'm very curious to hear any opinions on this story.
ASIO is the Australian equivalent of the CIA, standing for: Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, - however they resemble England's MI-5 more closely in their operations.[qPICTURE the sitting room of a modest two-bedroom flat at Lakemba in southwest Sydney.
Neatly covered floor cushions lean up against the wall beside a shelf full of brass ornaments from the Middle East, while a tank of goldfish bubbles in the corner.
It doesn't look like a terrorist's lair.
The occupant is a 54-year-old mother of six and grandmother of two, retired and living on a disability pension.
She doesn't look like a terrorist. ][/q]Looks aren't everything though. ASIO is not in the habit of watching people for no good reason.
Back in Australia's history, there was a famous case of a Russian spy, who had infiltrated ASIO and managed to remain undetected for 10 years. Eventually, he was even promoted to a higher position.
However, in 1993 another Russian by the name of Colonel Vasili Mitrokhin - an archivist who had already defected to England in 1992 along with 20,000 pages of secret KGB files, identified thousands of spies around the world, including him.
There was also the case of the the dubbed "Granny Spy" in Britain, an 87 year old grandmother, Melita Norwood who was accused of betraying Britain's nuclear secrets. We can't always believe our eyes, without first lifting away the veil of our own naiveté.
Rabiah Hutchinson is the 54 year old grandmother whom ASIO has been watching for the past 20 years. Intelligence analysts describe her as the "matriarch" of radical Islam in Australia. Given her past, ASIO has cancelled her passport so that she can no longer leave the country. And you'll understand why after you read how she has led her life.
Hutchinson left Australia as a 19 year old backpacker to visit Bali back in the early 1970s. There she met an Indonesian whom she married and with whom she had 3 children. Later, they divorced and she returned to Australia but her yearning to study Islam, saw her return to Indonesia, which she says:[...transformed her life.[/q]Abdullah Sungkar and Abu Baka Bashir, (both pictured,) were clerics and the men whom she chose to follow.
They had already been jailed by Suharto for plotting to overthrow the Indonesian government - but time would see them form the militant group Jemaah Islamiah, who were responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings, killing 202 people including 88 Australians. They also have strong ties with al-Qaida.
Nice company for our fresh 19 year old Australian girl to keep. Interestingly, Ms. Hutchinson who claims to oppose terrorism, says:
"In all the years I've been a Muslim I have never sat in a lesson where they have said, 'OK, we have to organise in a group, get weapons and go out and start killing people who oppose us'. I've never heard of it. It's got nothing to do with Islam."
The branch was named Mantiqi 4.
The mantiqi is subdivided into wakalah, sariyah, katibah, kirdas, fiah and thoifah. But in practice this structure was simplified to just three levels: wakalah, kirdas and fiah. The term mantiqi may be literally translated as region. But the International Crisis Group argues that it is more appropriate to view JI as a military structure with brigades (mantiqi), battalions (wakalah), companies (khatibah), platoons (qirdas) and squads (fiah).
5 years later and after having divorced her first husband, Ayub, Hutchinson flew to Pakistan with her six children to realize her precious dream - to join the mujaheddin forces and the global jihad. She said:
"It was the best place I've ever been in my life,"
"It was the closest thing to the implementation of Islam to the fullest extent.
Hutchinson spent the next 4 years working in a mujaheddin hospital on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. She went to live for a short time in Egypt and then returned to Australia. Again she flew to Afghanistan, now under Taliban rule, with 4 of her children and returned to work in the hospital.
According to her, she became known to the Taliban leadership because of her work.
Ms Hutchinson became so well trusted that in 2001 she was asked by bin Laden's deputy and chief adviser, the Egyptian surgeon Ayman al-Zawahari, to run a new women's hospital in Kandahar.
Remember - this woman is an Australian - not from the Middle East and not from Indonesia or the Phillipines.
Moving to Kabul, she married her second husband, Egyptian born Mustafa Hamid, (pictured) whom we better know as Abu Walid al-Masri - a military strategist working at the Qatar based Arab television network - al-Jazeera. Hamid was a veteran of the jihad against Soviets.
The plot thickens as we find out that Hamid was a close friend to Mullah Mohamed Omar and Bin Laden's military chief Mohammed Atef aka Abu Hafs al-Masri (pictured.) Hutchinson claims:
"What I know about Abu Walid, he was never ever a member of al-Qa'ida," Ms Hutchinson says. "He didn't approve of al-Qa'ida. He disagreed with them - on everything, their methodology, their goals, everything."
Fleeing the cluster bombs raining down in Afghanistan, Hutchinson together with her children fled to the border, across into Iran until October 2003. It was here that ASIO agents finally managed to track the family down and fly them back to Australia under armed guard. She is not under arrest, but she is still being watched and living comfortably in Lekemba, Australia.
She claims today that:
"They've got it wrong. I am not important. I'm just a 54-year-old granny with diabetes and arthritis. What are they so worried about?"
We just want somewhere to live, somewhere where we can be normal and live according to Allah's laws. It's not that we want to take over the world and make everyone a Muslim, or stop anyone wearing a bikini on Bondi beach."
"Rabiah Mariam Hutchinson has extensive links to and supports the activities of Islamic extremists both in Australia and abroad. Hutchinson is directly associated with core members of the Ahel al Sunna wal Jamaah Association, with senior members of both Jemaah Islamiah and al-Qa'ida, and has directly supported extremist activity."
If Rabiah Hutchinson isn't a spy - then I'll run naked through downtown Portland.
The Australian - by Sally Neighbour
Intel Forum Mailing List - by Peter Hartcher
Centre for Defence Leadership Studies:
- Leadership Dynamics in Terrorist Organizations in Southeast Asia
CDI: Terrorism Project