Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Focus on Australian woman arrested in Yemen for terror links

Source : Australian Media: 02/06/2010

The Australian media have started to focus on the woman who was arrested in Yemen for terror links last May 15 and was reported by this blog earlier this week (May 31).

The Australian Newspaper has this report now :

AN Australian single mother detained in Yemen with her two children, aged four and seven, is suspected to have been targeted by authorities as a result of information provided by Australia to Yemeni security police.
Shyloh Giddins, formerly of Bankstown in southwestern Sydney, whose Australian passport was cancelled in April, is in solitary confinement while her children are being kept alone under house arrest in the family's apartment in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

A family friend says the children have been locked in the apartment for the past five days, with neighbours passing food to them through the door but prevented from staying with them.

Another Australian woman, who had been caring for Aminah, 4, and Omar, 7, since their mother's arrest on May 16, has been told to stay away from them and that she "might be next", according to Ms Giddins's Australian lawyer, Stephen Hopper.

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Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it is providing "consular assistance" to the children, and is urging Yemeni authorities to release their passports. However, a DFAT spokesman said a consular official had visited the two children only once, on May 20.

"The Australian government has to take immediate action on securing the release of these children," Mr Hopper told The Australian. "There is absolutely no reason for these children to be detained and it is in breach of every human rights convention."

Ms Giddins is believed to have been caught up in a crackdown on foreign Islamists living in Yemen, launched after the attempted bombing of a US airliner on Christmas Day last year by a terrorist who had studied in Yemen.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula -- known as AQAP -- which has its headquarters in Yemen and which is now in league with the US-born Yemeni-based radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

Australian authorities have been monitoring Australians in Sydney known to have contacted al-Awlaki's organisation.

"The Yemeni government is very concerned about foreign converts in the country at the moment," said Sarah Phillips from the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney, who said there were concerns AQAP was recruiting foreigners for operations abroad.

There is no suggestion that Ms Giddins has links to AQAP. Neither ASIO nor DFAT would reveal why her passport was cancelled in April.

Friends say Ms Giddins, who is about 30, grew up in rural NSW and later moved to Sydney where she converted to Islam about 10 years ago. She married a Lebanese-Australian and had two children, but the marriage ended several years ago.

A friend who asked not to be identified said she moved to Yemen in 2006 to learn Arabic and study Islam, and so her children could grow up in an Islamic environment.

In April, Ms Giddins was told by the Australian embassy her passport had been cancelled.

On May 14 she and her children were placed under house arrest, and two days later Ms Giddins was arrested by Yemen's National Security Bureau and taken to Sanaa prison.

Mr Hopper said he was concerned Australia may have passed intelligence to Yemen after cancelling Ms Giddins's passport, and that was why she had been detained.

DFAT said Yemeni authorities "have not told us what charges the woman may face".

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