New details on Australian and other terror detainees [Archives:2006/995/Front Page]

October 2 2006

By: Amel Al-Ariqi & Agencies
SANA'A, Nov. 1 ) The Australian press has revealed more information about three Australian citizens arrested in Yemen on terrorism charges two weeks ago.

The three detainees are among a group of eight foreigners with suspected Al-Qaeda links who face charges in Yemen for an alleged plot to smuggle arms to Somalia.

According to press reports, two of the men are brothers and reportedly sons of Abdul Rahim Ayub, who established a Jemaah Islamiyya cell in Australia but fled after the Bali bombing in Indonesia. The two Australian-born brothers of Anglo-Saxon background are believed to be named Mohammed and Abdullah Ayub, age 18 and 21, respectively.

The brothers were in Yemen on a study tour organized by their mother, Australian-born Muslim and former wife of Ayub, Rabiah Hutchison, who fled Australia on Oct. 16, 2002, four days after the first Bali bombing. Their sister Rahmah reportedly is married to Khalid Cheikho, one of nine men charged in Sydney with conspiring to produce explosives in preparation for a terrorist attack.

Although born in Poland, the third detainee, 35-year-old Malik Samulski, also known as Abdul Malik, had been an Australian citizen since the 1980s. He was a student and Sydney resident from the southwest suburb of Preston who converted to Islam. His family said he left Australia two years ago with his wife and child to study language in Yemen. Although Samulski's family says he's never been in trouble with the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), he was known to have associated with the Ayub brothers before he left Sydney.

Acting on behalf of the three men, Sydney lawyer Adam Houda said the Ayub brothers' family had contacted him. He described them as devout, law-abiding Muslims who only recently had gone to Sana'a with their families to further their religious instruction.

Houda confirmed that the men went to Yemen to attend a private religious college, but not the Islamist Al-Iman University in Sana'a run by Sheikh Abdul-Majid Al-Zindani, who has denied any connection with the detainees.

The lawyer added, “The family is very, very upset. They believe there's no doubt that the Australian government is responsible. ASIO used to hassle them in Australia and some ASIO officials intervened as they were flying from the country.”

In Parliament yesterday, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer saluted the men's detention. “We welcome the Yemeni authorities' determination to address terrorism in a country where there have been a number of terrorist attacks over the years – most prominently the attack on the USS Cole – but there also have been attacks that Australians have been caught up in over the years.”

He added, “If they've broken the law or been involved in terrorism, well then they deserve everything they get.”

However, Downer also insisted that Australia had no knowledge of the group before their arrest and no involvement in the operation. “Australia wasn't involved,” he stated.

On Thursday, a Danish Foreign Ministry official confirmed the Oct. 14 arrest of a Dane, but refused to identify him. Danish media reported that the suspect is a 23-year-old man who converted to Islam and moved to Yemen two months ago with his wife and child.

Press reports also mentioned that another detainee, Ibrahim Abdullah Al-Sinhi, also known as Abu Dujana Al-Misiki, admitted that he'd been assigned to carry out an attack with an explosives-laden car at Sana'a International Airport.

Yemen's Interior Ministry previously issued an official press statement on September Net, wherein it mentioned that Yemeni security had arrested a group of eight men of various European and African nationalities on Oct. 16 on charges of smuggling weapons to religious courts in Somalia.

The arrests stemmed from a state security campaign launched last month against alleged members of an Al-Qaeda cell, a Yemeni security source said, adding that another 15 Yemeni suspects have been arrested so far.