'Jihad Sheilas' speak out
By Lisa Millar
Posted Tue Feb 5, 2008 9:36am AEDT
Updated Tue Feb 5, 2008 10:50am AEDT
Slideshow: Photo 1 of 2
Rabiah Hutchinson, an Australian woman once married to a confidante of bin Laden, lived in Afghanistan under the strict rule of the Taliban on September 11, 2001.
Rabiah Hutchinson, an Australian woman once married to a confidante of bin Laden, was living in Afghanistan under the strict rule of the Taliban on September 11, 2001. (ABC TV)
Two women who grew up in country New South Wales and converted to Islam decades ago have defended their beliefs in an extraordinary interview to be aired tonight on ABC television.
The women, neither of whom have ever faced terrorism-related charges, are speaking on camera for the first time, offering an insight into their lives and their dedication to their religion.
They both subscribe to Wahhabism, the strand of Islam followed by Osama bin Laden.
The two women defend their religion in the interviews, but know their beliefs make them suspect to non-Muslims.
Their movements have also been closely watched by security authorities,
Rabiah Hutchinson, an Australian woman who was once married to a confidante of bin Laden, was living in Afghanistan under the strict rule of the Taliban on September 11, 2001.
Her contacts and her religious beliefs have made her a figure of suspicion for the security services, and they have taken away her passport.
"I would defend Islam with my life, so that makes me a filthy, dirty, subhuman terrorist," she said.
"The same as if you asked me, would I die defending my children.
"Does that mean I'm going to go and lob grenades out of the bus in Lakemba? No, it doesn't. But you have just asked me a question that could very well have me put away for a long time."
Ms Hutchison and her friend, Raisah bint Alan Douglas, speak on camera for the first time on the ABC TV program Jihad Sheilas, to be aired tonight at 8:30pm.
They did the interviews to explain their dedication to their religion, and claim they've been victimised in Australia.
While Ms Hutchinson is still in Australia, Raisah bint Alan Douglas now lives in Nairobi.
She has had eight children and been married five times.
Like Ms Hutchinson, she follows Wahhabism, the strand of Islam on which Saudi Arabia was founded, but whose most extreme devotees include Osama bin Laden.
"We hear a lot - 'they're oppressed those poor darlings? Are you hot in there?'," she said.
"I say 'look, it's hotter in hell, so you know what - I'd rather wear this now and if I am a bit hot, it's hotter in hell'.
"So I'll just do what God told me to do."
Her friend Rabiah Hutchinson has been referred to as the "grand dame of terror", a title she absolutely rejects.
Ms Hutchinson also spent time at an Islamic boarding school in Indonesia founded by Abdullah Sungkar, and the man who many years later was accused of being the mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombing, Abu Bakar Bashir.
She doesn't believe he was involved in that attack, and what she says about those who died has the potential to cause deep offence to survivors and relatives.
"Do I feel for the people that died? Not as much as I feel for those 200 Afghani people that gave me and my children shelter," she said.
"Why? Because they weren't holidaying in someone's country, sometimes engaging in child pornography or paedophilia or drug taking."
The women now regret speaking out and have withdrawn their support for the program.
They have threatened legal action, claiming they've been misrepresented.
ABC management says it is a powerful and confronting program, but fair.
ABC management says the program was never designed to vilify the women and the ABC stands by it.