WIKILEAKS has published details of 23 Australians believed to have links to a radical Yemeni cleric with ties to an offshoot of terrorist group al-Qaeda.
The latest tranche of Wikileaks diplomatic cables released this week contains one from the US embassy in Canberra that recommends 11 Australians be placed on a no-fly list and a further 12 on another “selectee” watch list.
The cable – dated January 21, 2010 and labelled “secret” – says the names were provided to the embassy by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the nation’s security intelligence agency.
“The 23 individuals are Australian citizens, or are Australia-based, and are of security interest because they have either an historical or current association with Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, or are based in Yemen or the surrounding region and may come into contact with al-Aulaqi,” the cable reads.
Aulaqi is is an American citizen at large in Yemen with links to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
An unapologetic advocate of violence against the West, Aulaqi has been linked to the attempted bombing of a US airliner on December 2009 – less than a month before the embassy cable was written.
He narrowly escaped a US drone attack three days after American commandos killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in May.
Among the 23 names is Rabiah Hutchinson, a grandmother born in the NSW wine-growing town of Mudgee.
Ms Hutchinson has been described as the “matriarch” of Australian-based Islamist militants and has travelled extensively through strongholds of al-Qaeda including Afghanistan.
It is understood she has been monitored by ASIO for years but has never faced terrorism charges. She denies any links to terrorism.
“They’ve got it wrong. I am not important. I’m just a 54-year-old granny with diabetes and arthritis. What are they so worried about?” she told Australian media in 2008.
But the embassy cable recommended Hutchinson be placed on the no-fly list “due to her demonstrated connections with al-Qaeda” and AQAP’s wishes to recruit females for future attacks.
“While we have every confidence Australian authorities can and will monitor her activities and work to prevent her from departing Australia, her past history and association with al-Aulaqi merits her being on a NO FLY status,” the cable reads.
The cable carries the name of current US ambassador Jeffrey Bleich.