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Airfare loan to radical mum
November 25, 2006
THE federal Government paid thousands of dollars in airfares for Rabiyah Hutchison, the former wife of an accused Indonesian terror leader, and their sons to return to Australia after they fled the war in Afghanistan.
Ms Hutchison, who was married to Abdul Rahim Ayub, the Australian chief of Jemaah Islamiah, and then to an Egyptian-born al-Qa'ida leader, had been too broke to pay her own way home from the Middle East.
The Weekend Australian has been told the Government agreed to lend her the money for the one-way tickets from the Iranian capital, Tehran, to Sydney but she was warned her passport would then be cancelled until she had repaid the loan.
It is understood Ms Hutchison has not paid the money back.
The Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday declined to comment on privacy grounds.
After the war broke out in Afghanistan in 2002, Ms Hutchison and her children travelled to Pakistan and then to Iran.
It was there that she was intercepted by ASIO agents and questioned for weeks about her activities and links with al-Qa'ida figures in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Ms Hutchison told friends that she and her children were interrogated for almost two months before being allowed to leave.
She has denied any involvement with terrorism or associating with any terror suspects.
After returning to Sydney, she told friends she sent her children to live and study in Yemen while she continued to live quietly in the western Sydney suburb of Lakemba.
Ms Hutchison said that after the extensive interviews in Iran, the ASIO agents told her they would be in contact with her back in Sydney.
But on her return she told friends ASIO had not approached her until very recently. She later discovered that she had been under 24-hour surveillance by the spy agency.
Last month, her oldest sons - 20-year-old Mohammed and 18-year-old Abdullah Ayub - were arrested in Yemen along with another Sydney man, Marek Samulski.
They have been accused of involvement in a major international terrorist plot to smuggle arms into the war-torn east African country of Somalia.
The three men remain in a Yemeni jail cell but have not been charged with any offence.
Ms Hutchison has applied unsuccessfully for a special "travel document" on humanitarian grounds to go to Yemen to be with her sons.
The Mudgee-born Ms Hutchison went to Indonesia in the early 1980s and married an Indonesian man she met in Bali. They had one daughter, named Rahma.
After separating from him, Ms Hutchison converted to Islam and then married Ayub, a follower of Jemaah Islamiah's spiritual leader, Abu Bakar Bashir.
They returned to Australia and Ayub was given the mission of setting up JI's first Australian terror cell, known as Mantiqi 4.
They split up in the mid-1990s and Ms Hutchison travelled extensively, visiting Pakistan and Afghanistan.
She spent two years there from 2000 to 2001 and met and married a member of Osama bin Laden's inner circle, the Egyptian-born Mustafa Hamid, or Abu al Walid al-Masri.
At the time, Hamid was a senior member of al-Qa'ida and worked closely with bin Laden, but later split with him over ideological differences.
Although he was a senior member of al-Qa'ida, he was never involved in operations.
Source: The Australian