Monday, July 07, 2008

Singapore: Diary of a Terrorist's housewife

I can't believe my husband was a terrorist, ALTHOUGH he was a tad religious.

Mohamed Hassan, the Singaporean nabbed in Palembang recently for his involvement in the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist network, led a double life. To his family, friends and colleagues, he was a doting father, loving husband and a friendly man, if a tad religious.

To a small select group, however, he was an expert in bombs who worked with other top terrorists to bring violence and death to targets like Singapore. But his wife, 32-year-old Sayuti, never knew that. To her, Mohamed Hassan, 36, was simply Fajar Taslim, an Indonesian of Indian-Arab parentage.

She learned about his arrest on TV and wonders if he has another family in Singapore. (It's a Muslim thang - living under another name and having a wife in every terror port, I guess.)

'He has never talked about Singapore. What were his crimes in Singapore? Tell me. Do you know if he has family there? Will the Singapore police question me? I am very frightened and stressed because I don't know anything. I am still shocked myself to hear this news,' she said.
She had learnt about his arrest last week from watching the news on TV. Mohamed Hassan was arrested in Sekayu district, two hours' drive from Palembang city centre. He taught English at Cambrichindo English Language Centre there on weekdays, and would return home every weekend, she said. 'He did not come back that weekend, and I found out why after watching the news,' she said. 'I cried and cried. It must have been a mistake. How can my husband be a terrorist?

It looks like the signs were all there, sweetheart. Let's start with that prayer bump thingy on hubby's head, m'kay?

But her family disliked him, saying he was 'too religious'. Her father kicked them out of the house in Java about a year after marriage as he could not stand being criticised for missing his prayers.
Pregnant with her first child, Madam Sayuti moved to Palembang in 2004 with her family. She left her child from the first marriage in Java. After marriage, she was told to cover herself up in a hijab. She was also expected not to delay performing her prayers. Mohamed Hassan himself never missed the five obligatory daily prayers and would attend religious speeches at a friend's house for a few hours every weekend. 'I followed him on a few occasions. The speeches were about how to be a good Muslim, nothing extraordinary or radical,' she said.

The couple moved every two to four months because he was choosy about his neighbours - which stemmed from his religiosity. 'We moved once when the neighbours were playing too much pop music. Then another time, we moved when we learnt the neighbours were setting up a gambling place. Abi did not like that,' recalled Madam Sayuti.

What Abi did like evidently were things like this:

Indonesian police arrested the suspects, including a Singaporean, last week and seized a cache of powerful bombs, many packed with bullets to maximize the impact of a planned attack on Western tourists at a cafe on Sumatra Island, police said. The attack was later abandoned amid concerns that too many Muslims would be killed and the group instead planned to choose a target in the capital, Jakarta, police said earlier.

And it looks like he was a very busy boy while he sojourned in Indonesia what with making bombs and all.

The police arrested nine men in Palembang, South Sumatra, during a series of raids on Tuesday and Wednesday, and seized 10 ready-to-use bombs, six party-assembled bombs, explosive powder, electronic detonators, guns and bullets.

Islam is such a religion of peace, isn't it?