Natalie O'Brien and Simon Kearney - RABIYAH Hutchison, the Sydney mother of two men arrested in Yemen on terrorism-related charges, has been refused permission to travel to the country to be with her sons.
The former wife of accused Indonesian terror leader Abdul Rahim Ayub applied for a special travel document on humanitarian grounds to go to Yemen to support her sons Mohammed, 20, and Abdullah, 18.
Her passport had previously been confiscated on the advice of the peak spy agency ASIO. And The Australian has been told her recent request to travel to Yemen has been rejected.
All applications for Australian travel documents are decided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
However, a spokesman for DFAT declined to comment yesterday on privacy grounds.
And Ms Hutchison's lawyer, Peter Erman, refused yesterday to take calls from the media about his client.
Mohammed and Abdullah Ayub were arrested last month along with another Sydney man, Marek Samulski, after being accused of involvement in an international terrorist plot to smuggle arms into the east African country of Somalia.
The three men are held in a Yemeni prison, but have not been charged with any offence.
Australian counter-terrorism police who flew to Yemen to visit the trio have reported that the men are not suspected of committing any crimes in Yemen or Australia.
Mr Samulski's lawyer, Stephen Hopper, told The Australian he was preparing a report for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in an effort to convince the Howard Government to push for the trio's release.
Mr Hopper said his advice from lawyers in Yemen was that the detention of the men could breach Yemen's constitution. "If it's not constitutional it would be an arbitrary detention, and our Government would have a right to intervene and ask for our citizens to be released," Mr Hopper said.
Ms Hutchison, born at Mudgee in central NSW, went to Indonesia in the early 1980s. After a brief marriage to an Indonesian she met in Bali, she converted to Islam and married Abdul Rahim Ayub, a follower of Jemaah Islamiah's spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir.
They returned to Australia to live after Ayub was allegedly given the mission of setting up JI's first Australia's terror cell, known as Mantiqi 4.
After splitting from Ayub in the mid-1990s, Ms Hutchison took her sons Mohammed and Abdullah to 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.
Hamid was then 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 the group's operational aspects.
Ms Hutchison, the mother of six children, has strongly denied associating with terrorists while she was in Afghanistan.
She fled the country after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US, and went to Pakistan and then Iran, where she was detained and questioned for weeks by ASIO agents.
She has since returned to Sydney and is living at Lakemba, in the city's southwest.
Ms Hutchinson has told friends ASIO has had her under 24-hour surveillance since she returned to Australia. In fear for her life and that of her family, she has told friends she sent her children to Yemen where she hoped they could study in safety.
The Australian News