Islamic Women’s Council not aware of New Zealand jihadi brides joining Isis

December 9, 2015 1:11 pm

 

Islamic
State group militants hold up their flag as they patrol in a
commandeered Iraqi military vehicle in Fallujah. Photo / Getty Images

The national Islamic Women’s Council is not aware of any New Zealand
jihadi brides heading to war torn regions to join the fight with .
Council
president Anjum Rahman told Paul Henry that although it was happening
overseas there was no indication the same thing was happening here.
Ms
Rahman said she listened carefully to Security Intelligence Service
director Rebecca Kitteridge yesterday and she didn’t mention the women
leaving were jihadi brides travelling to Syria to marry and support
fighters.
“All she said was the number had been growing and because it was a war torn area that was a concern,” she said.
“We
don’t know the ethnicity of these women, we don’t actually know the
religious background of these woman, whether they just converted before
they went, whether they converted at all, and we definitely don’t know
what they’re doing while they’re over there.”

Asked if the council had information on women travelling
overseas to marry and support Isis Ms Rahman said: “No. We don’t have
any knowledge or indication of that happening.”
She said the
Islamic Women’s Council had not been approached by the SIS to discuss
radicalisation or gain intelligence. “They may well have been in contact
with the Islamic Federation. I know that that organisation has been in
contact with the police and other agencies so there is a little bit of
engagement there.”
She said efforts to counter radicalisation by
local islamic organisations included integrating new immigrants into the
community and building a sense of a Kiwi muslim identity.
Speaking to reporters later she would not quantify the number but confirmed the number was less than a dozen.
She would not comment on whether had any had returned to New Zealand.
When
asked about the extent to which the SIS knew about Jihadi brides
returning, Ms Kitteridge said “of course we would maintain an interest
in those people” but the SIS did not know about every single person.
“Obviously we would be concerned with whatever they are doing in a war zone of that kind.
“There
would be really significant concern about what they are being exposed
to, the conditions that they are, their ability to get away if they want
to or how heavily radicalized or exposed to acts of barbarism they
might be seeing.
“For a whole range of reasons it is a real concern to us.”
Ms
Kitteridge offered her remarks in her initial presentation then
elaborated on them when Mr Key asked about the type of people that the
SIS watched as a security risk.
“They may have other problems in their life,” she said.
“It’s not your kind of average person who’s going out to work, or happily married or raising their kids.
“I would say there is a pattern of people who seem kind of disengaged in some way with productive life.”
There were a range of age and a range of backgrounds – “quite a diversity of people actually.”
Meanwhile,
Mr Key questioned whether that a proposal he has previously rejected –
attaching the Cortex cyber security programme to the Southern Cross
internet cable linking New Zealand to Australia and the United States –
should be revisited to give wider cyber protection to New Zealand
companies.
He made the suggestion while questioning the acting
director of the Government Communications Security Bureau, Una Jagose,
who gave a detailed speech recently about Cortex as part of a new policy
of openness in the bureau.
Mr Key said he had canned the
original proposal because of the potential anxiety of it being seen as
mass surveillance but he asked if an argument could be made, with enough
public debate for it happen to protect smaller companies.
At
present, the GCSB uses Cortex to mount cyber defence on Government
agencies and strategically important private companies – and only with
their permission.
Ms Jagose said the “hard ground work” by the GCSB needed to be done to be more open about the GCSB’s cyber defence work.
She acknowledged the possible anxiety over “mass surveillance.”
“We
needed to have that maturing of the bureau and of the public to
understand the threat and what we are doing about it. But one of our
great advantages as a country is that we are small and we are surrounded
by water and we have limited inputs for the international internet
traffic to come.
“That is an opportunity for the future, I would
say, that this country should think about very seriously because there
is an opportunity to protect everybody, not just Cortex customers.
“On a future day, we might have that discussion again.”
She
said that in her engagement with boards and executive teams, she was
asked quite often why the GCSB was not doing cyber defence for
everybody.
“I think it is a question that will be asked of Governments in the future.”

to us”

The
head of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand Hazim
Arafeh said it was the first time he had ever heard about the claims
woman were travelling to support Isis fighters.
“This is absolutely news to us,” said Mr Arafeh.
He said the wider Muslim community did its best to keep watch on anyone who they thought was vulnerable.
“Certainly
our first reaction is to make sure that those people get very well
informed that they are making a wrong decision religiously.
“As we have stated in the past Daesh ideology has nothing to do with Islam.”
Mr Arafeh confirmed he had come across people who were vulnerable but none were female.
“I’ve never met any woman that has ever been attracted to this ideology before. They were all men,” he said.
Mr Arafeh said a common thread among this group was their misinformed and weak knowledge of Islam.
To counter radicalised beliefs the topic was frequently addressed in Friday sermons at mosques across the country.
The number of people he had spoken to holding alarming beliefs was “very low”.
Mr Arafeh said the Muslim community was sad the situation was making people in the wider community feel unsafe.
“That’s
certainly not the intention of any Muslim who lives in New Zealand
because we’re Kiwis – we’re part and parcel of society – and our
allegiance is first and foremost for New Zealand. “

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