NZ 'jihadi brides' left from Australia

  • 16/03/2016
Head of the Security Intelligence Service Rebecca Kitteridge (File)
Head of the Security Intelligence Service Rebecca Kitteridge (File)

The New Zealand "jihadi brides" who went to Syria and Iraq actually left from Australia, it has been revealed.

It was headline news last year when the head of the Security Intelligence Service (SIS), Rebecca Kitteridge, told a Parliamentary committee "the issue of women going to Syria and Iraq" was a new development.

Prime Minister John Key, the chairman of the committee, then asked her if the women were going to become jihadi brides.

"Presumably," Ms Kitteridge said.

"It's difficult to see what they do when they get there, whether they're going to fight or support other fighters isn't clear but it's a concern they're going at all."

Now the SIS, in response to an Official Information Act request from RNZ, has said the women concerned didn't leave New Zealand.

"They were New Zealand citizens domiciled in Australia and they left from there," the SIS said.

It was never revealed how many women left, apparently to join Islamic State.

Labour leader Andrew Little, a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee alongside Mr Key, says he gained the impression at the time that the women were resident in New Zealand when they left.

The Green Party, which isn't represented on the committee, says the public were misled and "a paranoid shadow" was cast over Muslim women in New Zealand.

"These comments came at the time the Government launched a review into the spy agencies," said co-leader Metiria Turei.

"It is my belief the comments were used to whip up fear in order to justify far-reaching extensions of spy powers."

Chris Finlayson, the minister in charge of the SIS and the GCSB, denies the Government deliberately created the wrong impression.